Manchester University's annual late summer/early fall Hokum Karem event raises the curtain on its 2016 season Thursday, Sept. 1.
Meet Details: The women's race begins at 4:15 p.m. with the men to follow at approximately 5 p.m. around Manchester University's athletic grounds … Wabash College, Huntington University, Trine University and the Spartans make up the men's field, with the Black and Gold, Trine and Huntington competing on the women's side.
Spartan Shorts: MU's women enter as two-time defending team champions, while the men tied Trine for first in 2014 and were champions in 2013. Trine is the defending men's team titlist … Second-year head coach Geoff Lambert and his teams are anxiously anticipating the Hokum Karem and for even more reason this season. His Spartans' men's and women's cross country squads officially begin the athletic year with the meet, better than three hours prior to the football team's kickoff against Trine at Burt Field. "Most of our student-athletes come from within 90 miles of campus," he noted. "It's important for their parents to be able to see them compete and it's an opportunity to showcase our programs to campus staff and administration. We do take a lot of pride in the fact that we'll be the first team to compete for the university this fall, too." … A quick glance at the returning student-athlete résumés can explain why you don't want to miss the Hokum Karem. The men's program, sitting on a run of 17 straight top five Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship results, returns Manchester University's Male Athlete of the Year, Connor Bresnahan in addition to seniors Thomas Dean and Alex Gudeman. Bresnahan, from Portage, Mich.; Dean, from Bremen, Ind.; and Gudeman, from Rochester, Ind., have accomplished three of the program's all-time top 15 times ever recorded. The Spartans' women's squad, also with a large amount of returning success on their roster, is seeking to continue an impressive roll during which they collectively became the first HCAC school to sweep the three conference championships (cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and field) in an academic year. Included on that list are senior Mariah Jordan of Fort Wayne, Ind., MU's reigning Female Athlete of the Year and the returning conference champion; fellow senior Tiffany Harber of Columbia City, Ind.; junior Shelby Harrell of Plymouth, Ind.; and sophomore Samina Qureshi of Columbia City, Ind. The quartet holds four of the program's top 20 6K all-time marks. In the wake of those accolades, Lambert is taking things slowly with both teams. "The sooner the two teams can come together and figure out who they are the better," he said. "We were fortunate last year to be able to have that happen with a fast start and then with a solid outing at Oberlin, which led to some good results at the HCACs and Great Lakes regionals. We'll need to see everybody be accountable to their teammates and the process of getting better, too, for those things to happen again (in 2016). We're very excited to bring back a lot of experience, which is a first in several years. It's always important (for that) from a leadership situation." … Manchester University follows up the Hokum Karem by competing in Hanover College's Invitational Saturday, Sept. 10.