JCU Cross Country continues their powerhouse streak during OAC Championship

The JCU womens and mens cross country team compete strong throughout their season

John Carroll Sports Information

The JCU women’s and men’s cross country team compete strong throughout their season

Ashley McCall, Sports Editor

The John Carroll University Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams have been a powerhouse of the Ohio Athletic Conference all season and continue to defend that title as they each earned first place at the OAC Championships on Sat., Oct. 29. 

Traveling to Anges Moorehead Farm in New Concord, OH, the teams completed on the rolling hills of the farm as it winds through the perimeter of the fields. The Women’s 6k began at 1 p.m. with the Men’s 8k starting promptly after the women’s race. 

Women’s Cross Country

The Women’s Cross Country team won their third consecutive OAC crown with their first place finish this weekend. 

John Carroll also became the fifth OAC team to win three or more Championships in a row since 1980, joining Baldwin Wallace (1981-1983), Heidelberg (1998-2000), Ohio Northern (2010-2012) and Otterbein (2015-2018).

Erica Esper ‘23 has had one of her best seasons so far as a Blue Streak as she finished in third place overall and first for the Blue and Gold during this race with a time of 22:52.00. This is Esper’s second time in the top 10 at the championship meet with her sixth place finish last year. 

Erica Esper competing for the Blue and Gold this season. (JCU Sports Information Department)

“The team feels ecstatic,” explains Esper. “Becoming back-to-back-to-back (3-peat) OAC Champions is something really special and the energy was electric afterwards. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, coaches, family and all those who have supported me throughout my career thus far.”

The course record for the Women’s 6k was 23:55.60 which was broken by the top 14 individuals in this race. 

Rounding out the top 10 was Abby Schroff ‘26 who finished in sixth with a mark of 23:21.02. Graduate student Cameron Bujaucius took eighth place (23:37.09), Sarah Weldon ‘25 finished in ninth (23:40.00) and Jennifer Massucci ‘23 finished in tenth place (23:43.03). Each of these Blue Streaks earned First Team All-OAC honors for their performances.

Ellie Kitsmiller ‘25 (11th, 23:43.04) and Amanda Keim ‘25 (12th, 23:44.07) also were honored for their finishes as they each received Second Team All-OAC honors and beat the course record with their top 15 finishes.

John Carroll dominated the scoreboard with 36 team points, followed by Ohio Northern with 67 and Mount Union with 75. 

“Having good team chemistry turns cross-country from an individual sport into a team one,” continues Esper. “When you toe the line with teammates who you know have been putting in the work and have your back, it motivates you. When you race a team of motivated individuals, you will find success.”

Men’s Cross Country

The Men’s Cross Country Team had a large target on their back after winning the program’s first ever OAC Championship title last season, but this year defended their crown with ease. 

The Blue Streaks finished at the top of the leaderboard with 40 team points. Otterbein finished in second place with 70 points as the Blue and Gold swept the competition. 

“The team couldn’t be happier about defending our OAC title,” said Alex Phillip ‘23. “We have suffered from a lot of injuries this year and for everyone to come together and get a great team win.”

Phillip finished in first place once again as he took this place last year as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship. With this second first place finish at the OAC Championship, Phillip became the only two-time winner in program history. 

Alex Phillip competing for the Blue Streaks last season. (JCU Sports Information Department)

“Winning the OAC individual title was definitely exciting,” continues Phillip. “It feels good to see all four years of hard-work culminate into this season, but there’s plenty more work to do and much bigger races ahead.”

The top 25 runners in the Men’s 8k broke the course record of 27:33.30. This included all the point scorers for John Carroll. 

Coming in next for JCU was Barrett Scheatzle ‘25 who finished in seventh at 26:12.5 and earned his second top 10 finish at the OAC Championship in two seasons. Ethan Domitrovich ‘24 came in ninth place (26:29.01) as both he and Scheatzel earned First Team All-OAC honors.

Finishing in the top 20 was Adam Shah ‘23 (11th, 26:39.04), Ryan Champa ‘25 (12th, 26:47.05), Tommy Naiman ‘25 (15th, 27:04.01) and Joe Backus ‘23 (17th, 27:08.08) as each received Second Team All-OAC honors as well.

“Team chemistry is a big part of running,” finished Phillip. “When you spend so much time with a group running, talking, grinding through workouts, you become very close and when you are doing it together, it makes chasing the dream of being on the podium all the more realistic.”


Both squads will have a week off of competition as they train for the NCAA DIII Great Lakes Regional Championship on Sat., Nov. 12 at the West Ottawa Golf Course in Holland, MI.