UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor University women's cross country team will be vying for a fourth-straight Crossroads League Championship and the sixth league crown in program history when it takes the course at Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday, November 5 at 10:30 am.
"We expect the race to be as exciting as they have been the last four years," said seventh year head coach and three-time Crossroads League Coach of the Year, Quinn White. "I think Taylor and IWU are the two favorites, having been nationally ranked all season. We finished ahead of them in each of our meets but they are improving and I expect a very competitive meet. Our plan is to race like we have practiced, be competitive, have fun and bring the fire. We are thankful for the opportunity to use our gifts."
No. 14 Taylor and No. 23 Indiana Wesleyan have finished first and second at the league meet in each of the past three years in that order, with both programs also finishing among the top-three in the team standings in 2012. The two teams will enter Saturday's race as the prohibitive favorites to battle for the title once again.
The Trojans are in the midst of yet another outstanding campaign, despite battling significant injuries that have regularly shortened their lineup. TU owns an overall mark of 92-7 through five races, having only finished behind a pair of NAIA schools all season, with No. 4 Aquinas and No. 10 Shawnee State having each topped Taylor twice.
In addition to finishing third-or-higher in all five races, TU won the season-opener at Indiana Wesleyan's course, turned in the sixth, seventh and eighth-fastest team times in program history, have three active runners with previous All-Crossroads League honors and saw Mae Elizabeth Gimre, Rachel Blagg and Taylor Bluemel post individual times within the top-20 of Taylor's program history this season.
Gimre has led Taylor, as the breakout sophomore has raced to TU's three-fastest individual times of the year and has led the squad in each of the past four races, while posting four top-five finishes. Gimre has set a personal-best time in each of her last four races, highlighted by a time of 18:10 at the Great Lakes Invite on October 22, which was good for the fourth-lowest mark in program history.
Fellow sophomores, Blagg and Michelle Franch, as well as freshman Bluemel and senior Hannah Schroder join Gimre in giving the Trojans a total of five All-Crossroads League threats capable of turning in sub-19:00 marks.
Having sat in the NAIA Top-25 Poll between No. 7 and No. 14 all season, Taylor would likely receive at at-large bid to the NAIA National Championships on November 19 regardless of Saturday's outcome but will look to secure the league's automatic bid with a fourth-straight title.
TU has advanced to the NAIA National Championships in each of the past three seasons, finishing top-11 in all three appearances.