Jason Ordway rode home from Fairfax, Va., on one of Dayton’s two charter buses with two Atlantic 10 championship trophies strapped to the seats beside him with medical tape.
The Dayton Flyers men’s and women’s cross country teams wanted to make sure their prizes stayed safe after their big day Saturday. Now both trophies are proudly displayed in Ordway’s office at UD.
The men’s team won its second championship in a row. The women’s team won for the first time since 2009. Never before had they both won in the same season.
“It’s great for the team,” Ordway said Tuesday. “It’s great for recruiting. All things considered, we did exactly what we wanted to this year. Everyone bought into what we were trying to do, and they got in line and followed the leadership we’ve had from the upperclassmen, and the season really came together.”
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Ordway took over the men’s program in July 2015 and was named A-10 men’s coach of the year in his second season, leading the Flyers to the title a year ago. In July, he was promoted to director of track and field and cross country and began coaching the women’s team, which finished second a year ago.
“I kind of hoped it would all come together,” Ordway said. “We knew we had the talent. We knew we had the work ethic. It was just kind of putting everything that was on paper into use and getting everybody to buy in. That was pretty much immediate. As soon as they found out I took over, they were very excited and they all got in line and started doing the work required for it. It was just exciting to see it all come together.”
While Taylor Vernot and Emily Leonard led the women’s team with top-four finishes, the runners further down in the pack were just as important. Emily Borchers, Kaci Bornhorst and Allison Trisket, who all placed in the top 40, surprised their coach with their performances.
“They were all running out of their minds in the second half of the race,” Ordway said. “For them to come from where they were and finish where they did, that was really the make or break for the whole team.”
On the men’s side, Tom Clark had a similar race, placing 32nd after almost not making the travel roster.
“He passed 33 people over the last 2K,” Ordway said. “He stepped into our fifth-man role.”
The season is not over for both teams. The Flyers race in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 10 in Terre Haute, Ind.