Wright State’s women’s cross country team huddles before the Friendship Invitational earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Wright State

Wright State Insider: Horizon cross-country foes a bit mysterious

Wright State will compete in the Horizon League cross-country championships Saturday at Oakland, and both the men’s and women’s teams will be going into it somewhat blind. Not only will they be seeing the course for the first time, but they also don’t have much of a feel for how they stack up with the rest of the field.

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Unlike most league sports, cross-country teams don’t have head-to-head competition and only race against each other if they happen to enter the same meet, which isn’t all that common.

“We rarely see anyone from the Horizon,” Raiders coach Rick Williamson said. “Our men ran against Northern Kentucky a couple weeks ago, and our women have run against two conference teams. It’s going to be a little bit of a mystery.”

One thing Williamson can count on, though, is that the Oakland women are still the class of the league. The Grizzlies have won back-to-back titles and are led by defending champion Rachel Levy.

“Oakland is stacked,” Williamson said. “Heck, last year they had five or six on the all-conference team. That’s probably going to happen again.”

But based on results he’s seen, Williamson believes his women can match up with anyone in the league. The Raiders were second last season and third in 2015.

“We’re probably the deepest team in the conference,” he said. “Oakland is really, really good, but they drop off a little more than we do. I think our depth is going to help us against other teams like Cleveland State and IUPUI, which look pretty tough as well.”

Hailey Brumfield, a junior from Tipp City, won the 13-team Friendship Invitational at Cedarville this season and is coming off a team-best 33rd-place showing in the prestigious NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville. She was named second-team all-conference as a freshman.

Junior Aurora Turner (Beavercreek) was second-team all-league last year, while senior Shelby Nolan (London) and sophomore Jessica Swartz (Whitehouse, Ohio) just missed earning all-league honors.

The top seven finishers make the first team, while the next seven are named to the second team.

“They all have a goal of making all-league. The fact that IUPUI is in the conference this year is going to make it more challenging. We could conceivably come in second or third as a team and not have anybody make all-conference,” Williamson said.

“Other teams that aren’t great teams have some really good individuals to take up those spots. I think it will be more difficult to make it this year.”

The Raider men will be hard-pressed to match their program-best third-place showing in 2013 but could finish in the middle of the pack. Nathan Dunn, a sophomore from Covington, was second team all-league last year and has paced the Raiders in every meet since he joined the squad.

“He just keeps getting better and better,” Williamson said. “He’s just so level-headed and consistent. He’s got a really good shot at being first-team all-conference.”

Men’s soccer: Sam DeRoy, a senior midfielder from Powell, Ohio, was named the Horizon League defensive player of the week after a 1-0 win over Northern Kentucky.

It was the seventh shutout this season for the Raiders, who are 9-5-1 overall and 5-2 in the league with two matches left. First-place Green Bay is 5-1-1.

DeRoy, who also assisted on the only goal, was the team MVP in 2015 but missed most of last season with an injury.

Women’s soccer: Maddie Jewell, a sophomore goalie from Cincinnati, was named the league’s defensive player of the week after a pair of 1-0 wins over Cleveland State and UIC. She has six shutouts this year.

The Raiders, who are 10-7 overall and fourth in the league at 5-3, end the regular-season Friday at Detroit Mercy. The conference tourney starts next week, and the third and fourth seeds host first-round games.

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