Both the men and women’s cross country teams finished fifth in their respective races this past Friday, and 11 runners improved on their season high in the second meet of the year.The teams traveled to Upland, Indiana, to compete in the Ray Bullock Invitational, hosted by Taylor University.
On the women’s side, all four runners ran at season highs. Junior Siana Emery, decreased her time from 23:07.5 to 23:05.9. Junior Jenae Stutzman, improved from 23:22.4 to 23:18.9. Junior Megan Graber, shaved seconds off her time from the Indiana Wesleyan Twilight Classic, running a time of 24:00.2 at IWU, and 23:31.9 at Taylor, and freshman Hayley Bickford, went from 25:42.9 to 24:10.9.
“Yesterday was a challenging race for us all. But I think we did a good job of pushing ourselves all the way through the finish,” Emery said.
The men’s team had five runners with season bests, including three with career bests, and a collegiate debut.
Sophomore Brandon Roe and Senior Joe Ortiz, each ran their best times on the season. Roe improved his time from 32:19.2 to 32:09.2 and Ortiz matched his season high at 33:29.6.
Senior Gerardo Abad, Junior Max Burkholder, and Junior Luke Geiser each had career-best marks on the day. Abad improved his career high from 28:57.2 to 28:32.5. Burkholder cut his career high to 28:43.6 from 28:44.8 and Geiser trimmed down his time from 32:41.3 to 31:53.3.
“It was an amazing day to view the course as a team because our aim was to familiarize ourselves [with it],” said junior Vincent Kibunja, who finished fourth overall at the meet. “That’s where we will run our conference meet in November.”
Kibunja thought that their team phrase, “huwezi kufa” which translate to “you cannot die” pushed the team and “made everyone run well.”
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 29 in Kentucky for the Louisville Sports Commission Cross Country Classic. The men are scheduled to run at 9:30 a.m. ET and the women follow at 10:15 a.m. ET.