LAND O’ LAKES, WISCONSIN - This summer, as we did last summer, Yellow Jacket Roundup will be taking a ten-week hiatus as the summer sports break splits spring from fall and the academic year begins anew. If you’ve made it this far, I presume you already know the premise of this column and can guess we’re up to cross country talk to week. So, to spare you an okay transition, let me take a sentence to plug the Northwoods of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as the ideal vacation destination. Warm and breezy, but not too humid or hot, good eating, fishing, hiking, kayaking, swimming, and biking, and a cathartic sense of wilderness but not abject isolation, well, I love it. It even has this tried-and-true swimmer going on runs. Speaking of runs, let’s talk cross country. See? Still got it in there.
When We Last Saw ‘Em:
The smart [ABBA] in me wanted to say that we just talked about them when we looked at track a month or so ago, but, since track and cross country are certainly two different sports, though there is a lot of athletes who do both, despite their shared Twitter accounts, we’re going to take another look at cross country.
And, for the record, the last time out for the women was, dare I say, a smashing success. They spent most of last season ranked in the top 50 programs in the country, and qualified and ran at NCAAs for the first time in almost two decades, placing 28th. Though they were probably a little rankled by it being on a chilly November weekend in Madison, it was a good finish for a team that didn’t have a lot of press going into the season last year. They lose just Amy Ruiz and Hailey Gollnick off their NCAA lineup, and the majority of the team will be juniors or younger.
As for the men, they finished fifth in regional competition, a massive improvement from their 12th seed. They had entered the weekend following a rough 11th place finish in the ACC (the women got 7th) meet their previous outing, but saw marked improvement. Perhaps their biggest achilles heel all season, their inconsistency managed to swing a very favorable direction in time for their biggest race of the year.
And, other than that, that’s pretty much all they wrote. Their two or three biggest races of the year saw three great performances, one good performance, and one okay-to-not-great performance. They don’t lose much, especially from the women, who had a superlative season, for a team that had not seen success in the sport in quite a while. I guess the question becomes, can the gang retool and do it again in 2019?
Who’s In/Who’s Out:
Amy Ruiz is probably our most notable departure, and, like always, incoming recruits are a bit tough to track down.
Various and Sundry:
- Alan Drosky got a lot out of his girls team last year - can he find the pieces already on the roster or among freshmen to fill the gaps?
- Recruiting clearly paid off in the rising junior class. With AI 2020, can “stacked” classes like that become more common?
- Order of finish at NCAAs (class for upcoming season): Hana Herdon (Jr.), Nicole Fegans (Jr.), Ruiz, Mary Kathryn Knott (So.), Gollnick, Ellen Flood (Sr.), Liz Galarza (Jr.)
- Where are the men at? Can they have more Regionals-esque runs?
- “They run far but not fast enough to beat a number of other teams,” Akshay Easwaran, 2019. Well put, Akshay.
Future Schedule Highlights:
Tech usually only runs a handful of times before the postseason starts, so it’s a little tricky to gauge where the team’s potential is actually at before crunch time comes. They’ll certainly run the ACC championship and regionals again, and usually like to get a race in on one or both of those courses during the regular season. Unless you’re a hardcore cross country fan, you probably won’t make it out to any of the competitions, but, if you stick around here at From the Rumble Seat, I’ll do my best to get what details I know to your feed every Monday morning.
Hold (W)/Sell (M): The women return a lot of pieces, but can they find that third and fifth spot time to stay in the mix for another run at NCAAs next year? As for the men, there’s too many unknowns. I’d wait to see some results to buy into the notion they could be as good as the women. But, then again, I’m naturally skeptical when it comes to cross country, track and field, and swimming and diving. Tune in next week for essentially the same assessment, but opposite for the genders, with swimming and diving.
June 10th - Track and Field June 17th - Men’s Golf June 24th - Women’s Tennis July 1st - Men’s Tennis July 8th - Softball July 15th - State of the Program July 22nd - Women’s Basketball July 29th - Cross Country
August 5th - Swimming and Diving
August 12th - Volleyball
If you have any insight you’d like to share on this, or any other program at Tech, leave a comment below. We venture to West Campus and the McAuley Aquatic Center next week for a look into the state of Swimming and Diving.