Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO Cross Country feels like best team in a decade

Sunday, September 11, 2022

As SEMO cross country goes through the early stages of its season, head coach Ryan Lane already has high expectations for the team.

Although there has only been one meet so far this season, Lane and a majority of the team believe this is the best total team that Southeast has had in nearly a decade.

“We’ve started this fall with the best group of combined sides in probably almost a decade,” Lane said.

According to Coach Lane, what makes this team different is one word, maturity. Junior Clayton Eftink feels similarly about the team’s growth being its biggest benefit.

“A few years ago we had a lot of young guys come through and those younger guys are now older and we’ve got some mileage under our belts,” Eftink said.

Eftink also said there are certain advantages the group's wealth of experience gives them.

“We know the courses for sure, and that’s a big thing. We know where to kick, where to put the surges in, and just knowing your body comes with experience, that way we know how to finish the season strong,” Eftink said.

The Redhawks backed up the confidence their coach has in them with a more than stellar performance at the Redhawks Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 2.

The men as a team finished in second place out of nine teams in a 6k race. The Redhawks finished only 13 points over first place and had an average time that was only 10 seconds more than the first place team.

The women dominated the 4k race they took part in. SEMO finished a whopping 47 points less than the next closest team, with an average time, nearly a minute below the second place team. Senior Hannah Eastman said she believes this is a good indicator of how the Redhawks will look this season.

“It was a really good indicator of not only where we are now but where we will be by the time conference comes around,” Eastman said.

What makes the performance in the invitational even more impressive was the Redhawks were not at full strength, according to Coach Lane.

“We were actually missing one of our girls and two of our boys due to illness. So the women would have won by even more I think, and I think the men would have had a really good shot at winning,” Coach Lane said.

Looking forward, SEMO has another big test soon at the Live in Lou Classic in Louisville, KY on October 1. Eastman said she believes the event holds major importance because it is a big opportunity for SEMO to see where they stack up against the rest of the conference, especially Southern Indiana, as they look to achieve their goal of winning the OVC.

“That’ll tell us where we stand up at conference since there’s going to be a lot of conference teams at that meet. It’ll be a good matchup against Southern Indiana, and unless some other team comes from the dark I’m pretty confident with what we have,” Eastman said.