The Webster University men’s and women’s cross-country teams dealt with humidity and rain on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Washington University Early Bird Meet. Despite the weather conditions, two runners, senior Ethan Jeffries and junior Heather Heisse, were close to breaking personal and school records at the meet.
Heisse finished with a time of 16:42, landing her at 49th overall, in the non-traditional 4K race. Her time of 16:21 at the event in 2011 is a Webster record. Despite leading Webster runners on Saturday, she said she hoped for a personal best.
“I was actually kind of disappointed because it was (21) seconds slower than I was last year,” Heisse said. “It kind of surprised me because I feel like I’m in better shape than I was last year.”
Jeffries, running in his first meet for the Gorloks, finished first for the Webster men and 38th out of 99 runners in the 6K race. He set a mark of 20:42, which eclipsed then-junior Daniel Henkey’s 2011 time of 20:51.
“He’s been looking great in practice, so I wasn’t surprised,” Webster coach Kelly Parsley said.
Scoring for the Webster men was senior Henkey (42nd, 20:54), sophomore Jason Hickson (47th, 21:07), sophomore Greg Fletcher (81st, 22:24) and freshman Charles Whitehead (90th, 23:25). As a unit, the Webster men finished 13th in the race.
“I was pretty happy to see how close they were, considering the conditions,” Parsley said. “I’ve been excited about the men’s program all along, since the season started. I think we could’ve run a little bit better this weekend, but right now it’s so early.”
On the women’s side, junior Eroica Stackhouse followed Heisse with a time of 17:38, placing her 73rd overall out of 109 runners. Also scoring for Webster women’s cross-country was senior Jane McKibben (74th, 17:38), junior Julie Greenough (82nd, 17:56) and freshman Jessica Tautphaeus (95th, 19:40). Their times placed the Gorloks 13th as well on the women’s side.
Heisse said the season’s first meet sets a good tone for Webster.
“It shows us that we definitely need to work harder at practice than we are,” Heisse said. “We did win our first conference championship last year, so we are looking to do that again. As a team, we need to train hard and keep each other motivated to succeed and become conference champions again.”
The men’s team had three runners who participated in their first meet for Webster finish in the team’s top five positions. Parsley said the new recruits will get better with experience.
“Going forward, I think we’re going to do some great things,” Parsley said. “Some of our newer kids have to just get some race experience and more distance … I think it’s going to take a while for them to get adjusted to the distance change. But once we are able to get a couple of races under our belt, I think we’ll be even more successful down the road.”
The next test for the cross-country teams is the Walt Crawford Open hosted by Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill., on Friday, Sept. 7.