Story by Mark Musgrave III, Sports Editor
Photos courtesy of AQ Athletics
This past weekend, your Aquinas Saint runners competed at the WHAC Conference Championships in Sylvania, Ohio. After strong seasons by both the Men’s and Women’s teams, both have secured a trip to NAIA Nationals in Tallahassee, Florida. Placing second were the men with a 0.52 time difference between themselves and first-place finishing rival Cornerstone. The women placed third on Saturday, exactly one minute from passing Indiana Tech for second place. Both teams had multiple runners achieve a variety of honors.
For the men, Andrew Ireland, Matthew Schieber, and Caleb Hodgkinson were crowned First Team All-Conference, while Ben Hardy, Connor Clemens, and Connor Callahan made the Second Team. Juan David Hernandez placed 17th, squeezing in the Top 20..
For the women’s team, Hannah Adler and Maggie Whitney qualified for the First Team, with Hanna Grant on the second, and freshman Molly Harding and Kaitlyn Thomas squeezed in the top twenty as well.
Between both teams, 16 were All-Conference Academic Scholars.
I had the chance to speak with Coach Mike Wojciakowski, and he was very pleased with the improvement of his team this season.
“Both teams have experienced so much growth this season, so much progress made in such little time. I’m extremely proud of them and we’re in a good spot for the future.” Wojciakowski said.
After looking at the stats and times for his teams this season, it’s hard to disagree. The men have finished in the top forty percent of all invitationals, and the women have placed in the top thirty-eight percent. The men with two top five finishes in the regular season and the women with three, including taking home first place in the GRCC Raider Invite just down the road.
Fun fact, all members of the cross country program here at AQ were recruited in state. That just shows how well the program is set in stone here. Coach Woj has a keen eye for acquiring talent. The alumni turned coach has left quite the legacy on campus. He has a total of 23 WHAC Championships in his 25 years coaching.
As the Cross Country season comes to a close, keep an eye out for Aquinas Track and Field this Winter and Spring. But be sure to watch the Saints will finish their season at NAIA Nationals in Tallahassee, Florida on November 18. Go AQ!