MU
Oak Leaves

November 22, 2019


HCAC XC conference

Manchester University won both the HCAC men’s and women’s cross country championships.

Photo provided by MU Athletics

Coach Cashdollar Leads XC to HCAC Title


Alex Baker

 

Manchester University men’s and women’s cross-country team are triumphant yet again. Both teams have won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) title.

This is the men’s first conference championship since 2016. The male Spartans had three runners finish top ten in their race and Lucas Fontanez, junior, won the contest with ease as he beat the second-place finisher by 10 seconds. For the women’s team, this is their fourth title in the last five years. Five Spartans ended in the top ten and senior Hannah Wappes lead the way as she captured another first-place finish. Wappes glided by her competition and won the race by an impressive 23 seconds.

With both sides having successful campaigns, Brian Cashdollar, director of cross country and track and field, was named HCAC cross country coach of the year for both teams. Cashdollar has now won 15 cross country conference titles at Manchester, seven for the men’s side and eight for the women.

Even after winning so many trophies, Cashdollar remains humble. “Each title is a unique experience because that particular team has its own strength and weaknesses that they are trying to overcome,” he said. “That is the joy that I get out of it, seeing these athletes achieve more than what they thought what was possible.” In the cross-country program, these amazing experiences are called “forever moments.”

Cashdollar described them as moments that will never be forgettable and are a true accolade to everyone on both teams. Cashdollar has won HCAC coach of the year 20 times and has won a regional coach of the year as well. Keeping it modest, he credits this honor to his runners. “It is a byproduct of the athletes’ performances; in my eyes it is an award for them,” Cashdollar said. “I do not want to brush it off, but it is a second thought to me.”

One of the biggest obstacles this season for the program was to adjust to the construction of the stadium. “It definitely made it more difficult; we had to plan things a little differently,” Cashdollar said. “We wanted to be consistent on the same courses so we could record all the results and see the progression; early on it was a struggle to find that consistency.” The teams did not resort to heading inside to do more treadmill workouts, but Cashdollar did note that they went to the Manchester High School for to complete some workouts.

Cashdollar would like to shout out the seniors. “The girls are super close, they have been consistently striving for great performances and their conference performance really displayed their dominance,” he said. The women’s team always had good runners, so making sure they could become their best selves was his ultimate goal. However, regarding the senior guys, Coach was very honest. “This group came in and they were not good,” Cashdollar said. “These guys have just worked their tails off; they accepted the responsibility to progress as runners.” Working with two different types of groups was an exciting challenge for Cashdollar as it gave him opportunities to work with a wide variety of individuals.

Focusing on the future, he feels confident about his younger runners as they have what it takes to embrace their culture of hard work and dedication. “We brought in two great classes of first-years and I believe that we will be fine in the upcoming years,” said Cashdollar with a smile.

The Spartans have recently raced at the Great Lakes Regional contest in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the women’s side, seniors Ana Acevedo and Hannah Wappes earned regional honors. For the men, senior Sam Barnard received regional honors. In their respective races, both teams finished in 12th place.