November 24, 2020

Men’s cross-country squad strives for best-ever conference finish in program history

With four seniors on the men’s cross-country team, Parsley feels this year’s group of runners looks very strong — maybe even historically strong.

“On the men’s side, I think we’ll have the strongest team we’ve ever had at Webster,” Parsley said. “I definitely think we’ll finish in the top four this year.”

Webster men’s cross-country has never finished higher than fifth in a conference championship. Senior Daniel Henkey, the men’s captain, knows the goals the first-year head coach has set, and Henkey hopes to make good on those expectations.

 

(Left to right) Sophomore Greg Fletcher and senior Daniel Henkey run during a practice at Blackburn Park on Tuesday, Aug. 28. Coach Kelly Parsley expects the men's team to finish in the SLIAC's top four. PHOTO BY MEGAN FAVIGNANO.

“I have very similar expectations,” Henkey said. “I hope we finish at least fourth in the conference. It would be an improvement over the years past. A personal expectation of mine is to set a better personal record. Last year, I ran 27:22, so under that, maybe even breaking 27 minutes.

“As a team, I think there’s more than a couple of guys who can do that, so I want those guys to come in and feel they can do that and hopefully achieve that. We can be quite a good team this year if we can do that on the men’s side.”

Sophomore Jason Hickson and senior Tony Morales are two of Webster’s returners. Two freshmen, Clayton Roll and Charles Whitehead, join the team. Also jumping into the action is senior Ethan Jeffries, who, despite not competing for Webster cross-country before, Parsley sees as a top-five runner for the Gorloks.

“He’s been looking really good at practice running with Dan (Henkey) step-for-step,” Parsley said.

Health is on the men’s side thus far. Henkey said only senior David Koppelmann is battling a “knee issue.”

Similar to the women, Parsley focused on distance running and increasing mileage when he stepped into the program. The combination of experience and training is what Parsley hopes will lead to a record finish this year for the men’s cross-country team.

“With Dan (Henkey) leading the way and being in the best shape of his life, with those three newcomers, we’re going to have a tight pack, just like the women, and I think it’s going to really move us up in the conference rankings,” Parsley said.

The first challenge for the men’s and women’s teams is the Washington University Early Bird Meet at Washington University on Sept. 1. Henkey said it will be a gauge to see how the teams have come along.

“If we’re not in great shape yet, we’re really close,” Henkey said. “It’ll be a good test to kind of put us out there against another team, other teams in our conference and other teams that are Division I. I think we’ll all have better times than was expected before the season began.”

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