by Haley Gimre / Taylor University Athletics
The reigning Crossroads League Champions will look to stretch their streak from eight to nine as the No. 4-ranked Taylor University women’s cross country team will attempt to defend its Crossroads League crown on Saturday, November 6 at 11:45 am. The meet will be hosted at Huntington University.
The dominant Trojans have won eight-straight Crossroads League titles and 10 total in program history. This year’s championship race will be competitive as usual, as six Crossroads League teams are ranked or receiving votes. TU will compete against No. 15 Grace, No. 17 Saint Francis (Ind.), No. 18 Huntington, No. 23 Indiana Wesleyan and RV Mount Vernon.
2021 Crossroads League CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Hosted By Huntington University
Men’s 8k – 10:30 am
Women’s 5k – 11:45 am
“To participate in such a competitive league is a privilege,” commented coach Quinn White. “We are excited for this opportunity to battle for another title.”
No. 4 Taylor is in the midst of a strong 2021 campaign. The Purple and Gold own an overall record of 56-41 through four races, with their only NAIA losses to No. 1 St. Francis (Ill.) and No. 3 Cornerstone. The Taylor women took first place at the IWU Twilight Invite, third place at the Ray Bullock Invite and third at the Great Lakes Challenge where they logged the second-fastest team time in program history. Eleven-of-13 Trojans have set career-best times this season and nine women have recorded sub-19:00 marks. TU has also been ranked inside the top-five in the NAIA Coaches’ Top-25 Poll all year.
Abbey Brennan will look to collect her first All-Crossroads League honor as the senior has led the Trojans in her outstanding final season. Brennan entered the 2021 campaign with a PR of 19:31.9 and has since blasted that best by running 17:54.8 at the Great Lakes Challenge, claiming TU’s fourth-fastest time in program history. Brennan has three top-10 finishes this season, ending fifth at the IWU Invite, ninth at the Bullock Invite and ninth at the Great Lakes Challenge.
Standout sophomores Ahna VanderWall and Mollie Gamble have also been consistent leaders all season and will look to claim their first All-Crossroads League award. VanderWall led the Trojans at the Louisville Classic while Gamble finished first for Taylor at the Bullock Invite.
Seniors Giovanna Domene and Corinne O’Leary have both been two-time all-league recipients and will seek their third All-Crossroads League honor on Saturday. Brooke Studnicki, Madeline Purdom, Audrey Brinkruff, Lynae Ackley and Elayna Kitt have all landed inside TU’s top-eight this season and provide immense depth to the Purple and Gold roster.
The winner of Saturday’s league championship will secure an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships on November 19 in Vancouver, Washington. Taylor has competed in the NAIA National Championships the past eight seasons and turned in a third-place finish on the podium in 2020.