Wright State cross county coach pleased with results this season

Wright State’s Aurora Turner, shown here during the All-Ohio Championships, was named to the Horizon League first team. CONTRIBUTED

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Wright State’s Aurora Turner, shown here during the All-Ohio Championships, was named to the Horizon League first team. CONTRIBUTED

Wright State cross country coach Rick Williamson didn’t know how the season would pan out, but he figured his women’s team could be tough to beat because of an abundance of proven veterans.

“Our top five kids are all juniors and seniors. And it’s not only that they’re fast, but they’re just really good kids and coachable and good teammates,” he said.

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The camaraderie and depth paid off as the Raiders put together the best season in program history. They were second out of 16 teams at Cedarville, sixth among 36 at the All-Ohio championships, 15th against a top-tier field of 39 at Bradley and capped off the year with their grittiest performance at the Horizon League championships in Kenosha, Wis., on Oct. 27.

Considered one of the favorites, they got off to a slow start but then put on a strong finishing kick to nearly take the title. Milwaukee was the winner by a slim margin as the two teams separated from the field.

“It was a great effort,” coach Rick Williamson said. “They probably were a little too tentative in the first mile, but the fact that they battled back and almost won it is really amazing.

“After the first mile, they probably were fifth or sixth. But then they started passing people like crazy. They fought so hard and competed wonderfully throughout the race.”

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Milwaukee’s top five runners finished second, eighth, 18th, 20th and 28th for a total of 76, while Wright State’s quintet was fourth, 10th, 13th, 21st and 31st for 79.

“With three points, you’re probably talking one or two seconds per person (over 3.7 miles),” Williamson said.

Aurora Turner, a senior from Centerville, was named first-team all-conference, while junior Shelby Nolan (Whitehouse, Ohio) and senior Hailey Brumfield (Tipp City) were second-team picks.

“Every year, we’re supposed to pick an MVP, and I don’t think we can pick an MVP between those three,” Williamson said.

Juniors Victoria Angelopoulos (Centerville) and Molly Kearns (Russia, Ohio) and sophomores Abigail Halsey (Tipp City) and Lauren Shuman (Beavercreek) also were consistent contributors.

“We’ve gotten better four years in a row. We’re probably going to take a step back a little bit next year, but their goal should still be the top three in the conference,” Williamson said.

The men’s team, which finished seventh, could make a jump in 2019 since it loses only two of its top-10 runners and returns all-conference pick Nathan Dunn, a junior from Covington.

Williamson, who is in his third year as head coach after five years as an assistant, has built the program with a strong area emphasis by design.

“We’re not a marquee Division-I school in Ohio. Local kids know about Wright State and the education they’re going to get. They’re more apt to look into it. And once they’re on campus and see what we have to offer, it’s a pretty easy sell,” he said.

VOLLEYBALL: The Raiders dropped their opening match in the six-team Horizon League tourney Friday, losing in five sets at Northern Kentucky.

Sophomore Teddie Sauer (Fort Wayne, Ind.), who led the conference in aces, was named first-team all-league. Classmate Celia Powers (Cincinnati) earned honorable-mention honors, and Jenna Story (Louisville) made the all-freshman team.

The Raiders finished 15-14 under first-year coach Allie Matters for their first winning season since 2001 . They return practically their entire roster, although senior Alannah Lemming (Columbus) will be hard to replace.

“She’s got a great personality, and she’s a mother figure on the team. She’s been great to work with,” Matters said.

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