CMU - DeKalita, Emmanuel Shine in CMU Cross Country debuts

CMU - DeKalita, Emmanuel Shine in CMU Cross Country debuts

Provided by CMU

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Four Central Michigan runners posted top-10 finishes Saturday as the Chippewas opened the cross country season with their 29th Annual Jeff Drenth Memorial at Pleasant Hills Golf Course.

CMU's Esther Bell placed eighth and Melinda Palinkas was 10th in the women's race, while the Chippewas' Silas Dekalita and Emanuel Joseph finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the men's race.

Raquel Serna of Michigan State won the women's race in 17 minutes, 49 seconds. The Spartans' Nick Moon won the men's race in 15:06.7. No team scores were kept, and several top-line Chippewa runners did not participate.

It was the first race in a Chippewa uniform for Palinkas, Dekalita and Joseph, a freshman. Palinkas is a senior who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan State, while Dekalita is a junior transfer from Northwood.

"Our top two ladies today, Melinda and Esther, they moved up in the packs, they did pretty well," CMU associate head coach Matt Kaczor said. "It was a great first race for Melinda, a good first step for her. Esther, that was probably one of the best races we've seen out of her. It was a good step for her, I hope, confidence wise."

Bell finished in 18:32.2, while Palinkas came in at 18:40.8.

Also for the CMU women, freshmen Hannah Davis, sophomore Katie Weiler and Jamie Madrigal, another sophomore, finished 15th-17th, respectively, and sophomore Michaela Bundy placed 19th. DeKalita finished in 15:11.8, while Emmanuel came in at 15:23.5.

"Silas, our transfer from Northwood, had a stellar race," Kaczor said. "He started off in roughly 20th place through the first mile and ended up sixth and so we were pretty happy with the way he moved."

CMU junior Monte Scott and freshman teammate Alec Toreki placed 14th and 15th, respectively, while Chippewa sophomore Casey Voisin 18th and Tanner Pesonen, a senior, was 19th.

Ben Wynsma and Kyle Stacks, both of whom are expected to be among the Chippewas' top runners this season, finished 21st and 23rd, respectively.

Both were injured a year ago. Wynsma missed the entire season, and Stacks was out for all but two events.

"Stacks and Ben, those guys really listened to the idea of going out in 5:10 (mile) pace and they actually sped up throughout the race," Kaczor said. "They both ran like a 5:06, 5:07 pace at the end of the meet.

"We're starting off at a better point than I thought we were going to with those two guys."

Kaczor said he was particularly impressed with Voisin and Scott, who has performed well in the past in the steeplechase during the track and field season for the Chippewas.

"He hasn't had a breakthrough race in cross and he finished 14thtoday," Kaczor said. "That was his first time in the top 15. That was a breakthrough for him cross country-wise."

The event served as proving ground/training opportunity for the Chippewas, who return to action on Friday, Sept. 12, at the MSU Spartan Invitational.

"We're really happy with where we're going because we sat out our top three guys today," Kaczor said. "We're going to be leaving some good guys home this year (for the big meets), and that makes my job kind of hard, but in a good way.

"The future looks bright. They've just got to keep moving up the way they did today.

"On the ladies side, we're going to have to work on developing a couple more ladies to really get us moving and it'll probably take us almost to Notre Dame (Oct. 3) before we solidify a top nine. I think we have a good idea of where are (top) seven are. We need to work on a couple more ladies to really solidify this team."