November 27, 2020

Webster cross-country teams fall short of preseason goals in SLIAC championship

The individual awards piled on for the Webster University cross-country teams. Webster earned five All-Conference awards and the men’s Newcomer of the Year award in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Senior Ethan Jeffries continued his revision of the men’s cross-country record books at the SLIAC championship race on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Hillsboro, Ill. He, along with sophomore Jason Hickson and senior Dan Henkey, now hold the top three times in school history at the SLIAC championship.

Junior Heather Heisse runs at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational in Rock Island, Ill., on Sept. 21. Heisse finished first for the Webster University women’s cross-country team in the SLIAC championship on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Hillsboro, Ill. COURTESY OF JESSICA TAUTPHAEUS.

The men finished fifth overall out of eight teams in the meet, one spot better than the 2011 squad.

“I don’t want to say we went in with no expectations, but we didn’t really think we could win,” Jeffries said. “Our conference is small and anything can happen, and I think the whole team shared that feeling.”

Jeffries was awarded the SLIAC Newcomer of the Year, which is usually not awarded to a senior. Jeffries and Hickson finished ninth and 11th individually, earning them All-Conference second-team honors. Henkey missed the same award by four places.

“We’ve gotten a lot better, but unfortunately the conference has too,” said Kelly Parsley, cross-country coach. “It doesn’t reflect the amount of work my kids put in, and I think we’re better than that.”

Coming off a first-place finish in the SLIAC Championship last year — and returning its top five runners — the Webster women’s cross-country team had a lower than expected finish at fourth place out of six schools.

“Coming off a conference championship, we knew we had the target on our backs,” Parsley said. “I was happy with our finish, but I thought we would finish third.”

Junior Heather Heisse earned her second consecutive All-Conference first-team award, and junior Eroica Stackhouse was awarded her third straight All-Conference second-team nod.

Heisse believed she would have failed if she didn’t make the top seven to earn first-team honors.

“I was expecting (All-Conference first team),” Heisse said. “Personally, I had a terrible race, and I was really upset with myself.”

Heisse had previously beaten every runner in the field, except Principia College’s Casey Powell — who won the 2012 SLIAC Runner of the Year — but she posted her slowest time in an 8K race all season. She said redemption is just around the corner with the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional in Winneconne, Wis., on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Parsley has experience at the course and said it is one of the fastest courses he has coached at. He is expecting every Webster runner to post a new personal best and for Heisse to earn a spot in the top 35 and be named to the All-Regional team.

Parsley said no Webster runner has even been close to the top 35. This season, the Gorloks won’t have it any easier with 10 nationally ranked teams in the field.

“We’ve never ran there, so I’m a little bit nervous,” Heisse said. “I still expect to post a new personal record.”

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