"Small but Mighty" Women's Cross Country Team Races into 2017

Pictured: Hannah Westhoven (photo credit: Tony Coles)
Pictured: Hannah Westhoven (photo credit: Tony Coles)

By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant

The 2016 season produced a lot of positive results for Capital University Women's Cross Country, a pattern that is likely to continue in 2017 for a team that will have to maximize production out of its smaller roster.

"Our girls group is a little unique in some ways," third-year head coach Hannah Weiss said. "We have a small but very mighty team, so I'm excited."

Senior Hannah Westhoven (Napoleon, Ohio/Napoleon) is the only four-year runner on the roster and she will be looking to improve on a season where she placed first among Capital runners in five of the seven meets she ran in.

"She improved so much last year," Weiss said. "She dropped somewhere in the realm of 40 seconds in her 6K and she's already faster than where she started off last year, significantly."

Weiss added that the rest of the roster improved by about 15 or 20 seconds in the team's preseason two-mile time trail compared to last year.

Rachel Rus is a fifth-year senior runner but she hasn't ran competitively since her freshman year of college.

"She's been doing a great job," Weiss said. "She's worked so hard over the summer and I'm really excited that she's decided to come back. It's exciting to see someone come back and have as much drive as she does."

Also returning is junior Makenzie Meyers (Ashville, Ohio/Teays Valley) who finished first among Capital runners twice and won the Columbus State/Capital Invite with a personal-best time of 24:02.

Larkin Joseph (New Philadelphia, Ohio/New Philadelphia) is back for her junior season as well. As a sophomore, she finished first among Cap runners at the Jenna Strong Invite with a time of 21:00.02 and ran in six total events. Larkin echoed Weiss's goals of building upon 2016 and hopes to beat the personal records she achieved last year.

"I'm really excited for the season because our team is really young so we have a lot of room to grow," Larkin said. "Just from what I've seen over the summer so far it's going to be an exciting season."

Emily Hilt (Delaware, Ohio/Buckeye Valley) is on the roster as a sophomore. As a freshmen, Hilt was a heptathlon specialist for Capital Track & Field.

Although Weiss does not want to rely on freshmen for results, she said that she sees Alaina Miller (Baltimore, Ohio/Liberty Union) in the team's top seven. The rest of the freshmen will focus on making the emotional, mental and physical adjustments from high school to college running.

The Cap runners get their first taste of action at the Otterbein Dual on Sept. 1 in Westerville, Ohio.