Nolan Potts, ‘Doah Staff Writer
December 4, 2013
When coach Andy Marrocco was asked in September what he thought senior Ryan Taylor could accomplish this year, Marrocco said that his number one men’s runner had the ability to qualify for the NCAA National Championship in Hanover, Indiana.
The coach also said that Taylor told him at the beginning of the year his personal goal was to finish in the top 15 nationally. Although these sounded like very lofty goals, both Marrocco and Taylor knew they were completely realistic.
After a fifth place finish at the ODAC Championships hosted by Hampden-Sydney on Nov. 2, Taylor not only earned first team All-ODAC honors, but he had momentum in his favor heading into the NCAA South/Southeast Regional hosted by Christopher Newport. At Regionals on Nov. 16, Taylor needed to finish sixth or higher to become the second person in S.U. men’s cross country history to qualify for the NCAA National Championship.
Taylor’s former teammate, 2012 graduate Josiah Renton, qualified for the 2010 National Championship during his time at Shenandoah. With a time of 25:10.78, Taylor achieved what he had set out for in the beginning of the year by finishing tied for fifth, and earned All-South Region honors in the process. This performance meant that he now owns the top five times in school history and six of the top 10.
Taylor capped off his college career placing 182 out of 275 runners that competed in Nationals with a time of 26:28.3. While he didn’t reach his top 15 status that he strived for at the beginning of the year, Taylor cemented himself as the top cross country runner in school history, and that in itself is quite an accomplishment.
While Taylor was the only runner at Shenandoah to qualify for the National Championship, he was not the only one to have a good season. At the ODAC Championships, Kyle Lombardi earned a 54 place finish with a time of 30:37.8. He was followed by Matthew Gussiaas in 66, David Johnson (33:40.20) and Denzel White (33:41.90) finished 84 and 85, respectively and Donald Shubrooks (36:29.40) finished 91. As a team, the men finished ninth in the eleven team field.
Gussiaas, along with Taylor, raced at the NCAA South/Southeast Regional, and he capped off his freshman campaign with a 131 place finish in the field of 217 runners with a time of 29:20.85.
The women’s team achieved more success than the men’s team this year, and that’s because of balanced team attack. While Taylor was by far the best male runner in the program, the women had multiple runners that consistently posted good times in every race.
At the ODAC Championships, the ladies had multiple strong individual performances that propelled them to a seventh place finish in the ten-team field.
Dorothy Earner was the team’s number one runner all year, and she finished 12 at the ODAC Championships with a time of 25:08.5. She was followed by Nicole Legare (42), Shelby Shrader (45), Rachel Coffin (47) and Liz Paras (50).
At Regionals, Earner led the way by finishing 63 overall in the field of 193 runners. Paras earned a 125 place finished, followed by Emily Cobb (138), Shrader (147), Mary Claire Miller (157), Coffin (158), and Legare (173). As a team, the women finished in 22 out of the 27 teams that competed in the tournament.
Coach Marrocco said at the beginning of the year that he felt both the men’s and women’s team would be more competitive in 2014 than they would in 2013. The men’s team is losing their superstar Taylor along with Kyle Lombardi, but Gussiaas now has a year of experience under his belt.
The other returners, along with new recruits being brought in, will help the team improve. On the women’s side, they won’t be losing any of their runners due to graduations, which bodes well for them.
Earner will head into her senior year as the number one runner, looking for returners and newcomers to prove themselves. If all of the ladies return, they will have a very experienced team, and that’ll pay dividends as the season progresses next year.
If all of the runners are able to build off of their successes and failures, they can improve and learn from their experiences.This would ensure a special year for Marrocco on both the men’s and women’s side.