MILWAUKEE - The magic number for the MSOE men's cross country team has been 26, as in 26 minutes. Just five runners in the program's history have ever posted sub-26:00 times for an 8000m race.
It was a club of one until 2013 when it added members on an annual basis, with 2014 adding another, and two runners joining the group in 2015.
While it has been nearly two years since the fraternity has grown, sophomore Nick Bath has shown that the tradition could very well be alive as he is knocking on the door of entry.
This past weekend, in leading MSOE to a team championship at the Wisconsin Private College Championships with a runner-up finish, Bath crossed the line in a hair over 26:03. It was a season-best time by well over a minute and knocked about 33 seconds off his personal best.
The Raiders are in their heyday some standout runners, as three members from the 2014 roster are in the group in Ben Miller, Austin Wright, and current senior Trey Horbinski.
Seemingly, in each of those years, one runner pushed another into the group. Trevor Koczikowski and Miller formed a 1-2 punch in 2013 when the former ran 25:42 as a senior at the Wheaton Invitational.
Miller followed suit in 2014, pushed by Wright, and turned in a time of 25:23.
In 2015, Wright ran his first sub-26 time at UW-Oshkosh's Brooks Invitational. He then surpassed them all weeks later with a school-record time of 24:49 that qualified him for the NCAA Championships. Horbinski followed Wright to the milestone, crossing the line in 25:58 at the same regional championship meet. He was the first sophomore to post a sub-26:00 time.
Horbinski is now running with Bath, pushing him to closer to that 26-minute mark. Bath ran under 27 minutes twice as a freshman last season. His personal-best time was 26:36 at the Gene Davis Invitational while he also posted a 26:52 time at regionals. This season, he has been building to this point, with his season-best time at 27:17 before Saturday.
The NACC Championships coming up Oct. 28 and that means Bath is peaking at the right time.
He will have his work cut out the rest of the season, which could work in his favor by continuing to push him onward. The Raiders are perennial title contenders with five-straight top-two finishes at the league meet, including the 2014 championship.
After that comes the NCAA Regional Championships. The Midwest Region is, arguably, the toughest region in the nation. Running against some of the top teams in the nation has spurred on four of the program's top five performances.
Bath will continue to push to get better and the hope is that it carries him under 26 minutes. Then, it would be nice to pay it forward down the line. After all, it is tradition.
Elsewhere Around MSOE Athletics…
- Cross Country competed at the Wisconsin Private School Championships Saturday. The Men won their third title in their last four runs at the meet and the Women took fifth, matching their best0ever finish (1998).
- Women's Soccer won three times last week to run their winning streak to six-straight games. Abbie Lorenz made her first three collegiate starts in goal this week, not allowing a goal in 248:22 of action with two shutouts.
- Men's Soccer split a pair of games with a 2-0 win at CUC Wednesday and a 3-1 loss to Benedictine Saturday.
- Women's Volleyball went 1-1 on the road, scoring a four-set win at CUC Friday. The Raiders fell at Dominican Saturday.
NACC Tournament Watch...
- Women's Soccer has clinched a spot in the NACC Tournament with 18 points and three matches to play. The Raiders control their own destiny for the #1 seed, which they can clinch with three wins.
- To make it simple, Men's Soccer can clinch a place in the NACC Tournament with four points from its last three games.
- Women's Volleyball is one win out of the sixth and final NACC Tourney place with three matches to play.
Coming Up This Week...
- Women's Soccer (8-7, 6-1 / W6) faces league road matches at Concordia Wisconsin Wednesday and Aurora Friday. The team also hosts UW-La Crosse Sunday.
- Men's Soccer (9-4, 5-2 NACC / L1) hosts Concordia Wisconsin Wednesday and plays at Aurora Saturday.
- Women's Volleyball (11-14, 3-5 / L1) is at home this weekend, taking on Benedictine Friday and Aurora Saturday.
|Wednesday||Women's Soccer||@ Concordia Wisconsin*||3:30 PM||Video | Live stats|
|Wednesday||Men's Soccer||Concordia Wisconsin*||7:00 PM||Video | Live stats|
|Friday||Women's Soccer||@ Aurora*||7:00 PM||Video | Live Stats|
|Friday||Women's Volleyball||Benedictine*||7:00 PM||Video | Live stats|
|Saturday||Women's Volleyball||Aurora||1:00 PM||Video | Live stats|
|Saturday||Men's Soccer||@ Aurora*||7:00 PM||Video | Live stats|
|Sunday||Women's Soccer||UW-La Crosse||1:00 PM||Video | Live stats|
|* Conference Contest | Home Contests in BOLD|