Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 22, 2017


Part of the women's cross-country team huddles together before the Hokum Karem meet on Friday, Sept. 1. The teams competed in the Indiana Intercollegiate Championship last Saturday, Sept. 16, with the men's team finishing in 7th place and the women's team finishing in 8th place.


Cross-country Trains for Championship

Wayne Smith 


That is the name of the game for Coach Geoff Lambert and the Manchester University cross-country programs. The women are hoping to make a three-peat in the HCAC championships this year, as they were picked to win the championship again this year in the coaches' poll.

The men’s side also looks promising, as they were selected second in the coaches’ poll, behind running juggernaut Rose-Hulman. “We’re thrilled to have this recognition,” Lambert said.

In the first traditional meet of the season, both teams travelled to West Lafayette this past Saturday, and competed in the Indiana Intercollegiate Championship, with the men finishing seventh and the women finishing eighth in the small-team division, respectively. Hannah Wappes led the way for the women’s side, finishing third place in the 6K with a time of 24:12.09, while Blake Harris paced the men, and finished second in the 8K with a blazing time of 26:39.07. 

There was a bright spot from some first-year competitors as well, as Keyen Taulbee and Lucas Fontanez turned in finished at twenty-fourth and twenty-sixth, respectively, ultimately giving a glimpse of the program’s future. “This team has a lot of potential for this season, and the goal is to continue progressing and ultimately compete for a conference championship at the end of the season,” said senior runner Alek Seeley.

Harris and Wappes were noted as runners to watch this season, per the HCAC coaches’ poll. For Harris, the clock is ticking, as he is a senior. He is hoping to up his conference placing this year, as he finished in ninth last season. For cross-country, every place matters, especially when it gets to the conference meet, as one position can change the final standings for teams. Harris’ determination can seriously shape the HCAC standings based on any of the top 20 finishers.

Wappes has some cleats to fill, as reigning national qualifier Mariah Jordan has graduated; but she did finish third in one of the first meets of the season. In fact, Wappes excels at mid-distance; the long-distance running is just extra training for her to prepare for track season. So it seems as though the coaching staff is molding her into a “Swiss army knife” of sorts, to where she can compete effectively in nearly every distance above 300 meters. And it bears mentioning that she is only a sophomore.

The next meet on schedule for the Spartans will be in a week, when they travel to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 30. This will be one of the final two competitions the Spartans have before their HCAC championship on Oct. 28.