The Baldwin Wallace University women's cross country program has a rich heritage of excellence and is one of the best in Ohio, the Ohio Athletic Conference and in NCAA Division III. Head coach Joe Eby's goal every year is to make his program for cross country and track and field the best in the nation for NCAA Division III schools.
The women's cross country program continued to make great strides in 2019, led by senior Kelly Brennan (Akron/Walsh Jesuit), juniors Hastings Marek (Pataskala/Watkins Memorial) and Madison Kile (North Canton/Hoover), and sophomore Alyssa Laughner (Howard, Pa./Central Mountain). All four runners earned All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors for Top-18 finishes at the 2019 OAC Championships. The foursome also took home All-Great Lakes Region honors by all placing in the Top-35 at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship Meet.
Brennan also garnered BW's first United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-American honor since 2010 with a 31st-place finish at the 2019 NCAA Division III National Championship Meet in Louisville, Kentucky. The Yellow Jackets' 16th-place team finish at nationals marked its third-highest finish in program history, and its best since 2002. BW has also appeared in the USTFCCCA's national rankings for the entirety of the 2019 season and a program-record 10 consecutive weeks.
History of Women's Cross Country Excellence
Under former 24-year head coach Bill Taraschke, the Yellow Jacket women competed at the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championship Meet six times. BW was an all-time school-best 12th in the nation in 2000-01. In addition, the Yellow Jackets were 17th in 1995-96, 18th in 1999-00, 20th in 2001-02, 21st in 1994-95 and 29th in 2009-10.
Individually, five Yellow Jacket student-athletes, Peggy Fortune (1991), Shawn Conley (1994), Jessica Carmona (1997), Kim Chinn (2011), and Kelly Brennan (2019). Each have earned NCAA Division III All-America status by placing in the Top-40 runners at the national meet. Carmona was an all-time best eighth in 1997-98 and Chinn placed 13th in 2010-11.
In 2009, the Yellow Jacket women captured the program's 16th OAC Championship and 12th under Taraschke. The 16 titles are more than twice as many as any other OAC school since the league began recognizing women's championships in 1985. In 2009, BW also hosted the NCAA Division III National Championship Meet (sponsored by the Cleveland Sports Commission).
In the 1990s, the BW women dominated the OAC and won seven conference team titles, including an OAC-record six straight from 1992-97. In addition to the OAC-record streak of six straight titles, BW has two other streaks of four straight crowns (1986-1989 and 1999-2002). The other two titles came in 2007 and 2009.
The program has been led by some outstanding competitors, including 12 OAC individual champions:
- Martha Dora (1987)
- Lisa Winans (1988)
- Jennifer Schafer (1992)
- Tina Lokar (1993 and 1996)
- Shawn Conley (1994)
- Jessica Carmona (1997)
- Hannah Purdy (1999, 2000 and 2001)
- Lindsay Brickner (2007)
- D'Arcy Hlavin (2008)
Purdy is the only OAC women's runner to ever win three individual titles and Lokar is one of two to capture a pair of crowns.
The women's program originally began in 1976 before being recognized as an OAC sport in 1985. In the late '70s, the Yellow Jackets built a strong reputation by winning the AIAW (the late Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) state title in 1979.
The Developmental Goals of the Program
The Baldwin Wallace University cross country program strives for excellence by stressing the development of each runner to his or her fullest potential. To achieve excellence, the BW cross country student-athlete is asked to be self-disciplined, unselfishly dedicated and to place the goals of the team ahead of personal recognition.
While many valuable lessons can be learned on the cross country course and at practice, the ultimate goal is to help each student-athlete grow and graduate at the end of her stay at Baldwin Wallace University.