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MAC cross country by Jeff Samoray

Victory Lap Two Eagles dominate

Eastern’s men’s and women’s cross country teams had banner

seasons in 2014. The men’s team won its fi fth-consecutive Mid- American Conference (MAC) championship, and Head Coach John Goodridge became the winningest coach in conference history. The women’s team fi nished second at the MAC Championship and narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championship. Runners for both teams piled up plenty of individual

achievements, the most prominent being individual MAC championships for junior Willy Fink and senior Victoria Voronko. The success both runners had is all the more impressive

considering each came to the sport somewhat late in their athletic careers. “I became a cross country runner in eighth grade,” says Fink, a

20-year-old biology major from Maumee, Ohio. “I had tried a lot of other sports before then, but my hand-eye coordination wasn’t very good. I knew I could run really well, though, so I joined the track team in 7th

grade. My coach encouraged me to run cross

country the following fall. “Running is something that just seems natural to me. It’s fun,

and I really enjoy the team aspect of cross country.” Fink says the team’s contribution to Eastern’s cross-country

legacy was the most fulfi lling aspect of the past season. The latest men’s MAC championship was the 10th

under Goodridge. “Winning the MAC championship was a really big moment for

us,” Fink says. “A few minutes after I came in fi rst at the tournament, I realized that my teammate [freshman Lahsene Bouchikhi] fi nished second, which made me real happy. All of our top fi ve fi nished in the top eight, which was awesome. “Our team has a real love for the sport, which makes it easy to

stay motivated throughout the season. We also love being part of Eastern’s cross country success. It’s really cool to be part of a tradition like that—something bigger than yourself.” Voronko is one of the most celebrated women’s cross

country runners in EMU history. In addition to winning the MAC championship, the senior exercise science major received MAC Runner of the Week honors following each of her fi ve runs this season, adding to fi ve she won in previous years. Not bad for someone who only began running cross country regularly when she came to Eastern as a freshman in 2011.

Willy Fink “I was a pretty good track runner, but only ran a couple cross

country races back home,” says Voronko, a native of Stavropol, Russia. “My fi rst full season of cross country was at Eastern with coach [Sue] Parks. “I enjoy being part of a smaller team, which feels like family.

Fall is also a very pretty time to run in Michigan, and I enjoy the fact that every course is diff erent—the variety and the beautiful scenery make cross country very appealing.”

12 Eastern | SPRING 2015

Photo courtesy of Chloe Smith

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