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Courtesy: Zolton Cohen

Cross Country Opens 2013 Season at VALPO

Courtesy: WMU
Release: 09/05/2013
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KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan women's cross country team kicks off its 2013 season at the Crusader Open at Valparaiso University on Friday afternoon.

The Broncos head into the new season with a revamped roster after losing six seniors to graduation. A fresh crop of newcomers look to help the returners vault Western Michigan back into the top-half of the Mid-American Conference.

"It feels like a very different team after adding seven new members to the roster," said third-year assistant coach Dani Prince, who oversees the distance group as well for the track and field team. "We are a lot younger overall but our freshmen are pretty eager. They want to come in and make their mark right away."

Two of the newcomers that have caught the eye of both coach Prince and head coach Kelly Lycan are freshman Daya Wagh and Grand valley State transfer Ann Marie Arseneau.

"Daya has been up there with our leaders already and she has the potential to make an immediate impact," added Prince.

Leading the pack through the preseason has been seniors Alex Forsythe and Aisha Hodge and junior Becca Peacock. Peacock finished last season as WMU's top finisher at the MAC Championship, while Hodge consistently held the top spot among the team's top-five finishers.

"Aisha has a lot more confidence in cross country this year," said Prince. "The 800-meter run is her thing but I think she is finally starting to see herself as  a good cross country runner. you can see it by how she has been approaching practice. She wants to be the number one runner and I think that is the big difference in the team dynamic."

With Hodge pushing the group, the overall competitiveness of the group has been undeniable.

"There is a lot more pressure at the top and they are holding themselves more accountable," added Prince. "They are competitors and I've found that it doesnt matter what race I put them in, they want to do well and run as fast they can and that is something you can't teach."