The Goshen College Men and Women’s Cross Country teams began their seasons this past Friday at the Indiana Wesleyan University Twilight Invitational. The women failed to place in the top 10 as they only had four runners participate rather than the required five, however, the men placed fourth at the event.

The women did have two runners finish in the top 100 on the evening-juniors Siana Emery and Jenae Stutzman.

Emery finished first among all Goshen runners and 93 overall, with a time of 23:07:5. Stutzman finished in 98th place with a time of 23:22:4.

“Personally, I’m happy,” Emery said. “My time was not all that great, but I felt

strong and healthy.”

Friday was Emery’s first race back after being told by doctors over the summer that she would be unable to run this season following meniscus surgery. “I’m just incredibly grateful to be able to race–especially without pain,” she said.

The men ended the day with 109 points, just one point more than Ohio Christian. Taylor finished second with 43 points, and Indiana Wesleyan first with 36. The Maple Leafs had a total team time of 2:18:39, and an average time of 27:44.

The men had three athletes place in the top 25: junior Vincent Kibunja, freshman Liam Elias and sophomore Salvador Escamilla.

Kibunja finished fifth on the day with a time of 26:24:3, Elias eighteenth with a time of 27:13:4, and Escamilla twenty-fifth with a time of 27:40:6.

“It’s a great feeling knowing everyone on the team was pushing hard and giving it their all,” Elias said.

The men had a further five athletes finish in the top 100 runners. Junior Juan Perez finished 44th a time of 28:35:7, fellow junior Max Burkholder finished behind Perez with a time of 28:44:8. Senior Gerardo Abad finished 50th with a time of 28:57:2, junior Ryan Hagerty finished 65th at the 29:22:4 mark and junior Seth Weaver came in 94th with a time of 30:58:1.

Overall the Maple Leafs had a total of six athletes making their collegiate debut at the event. Weaver spoke of his decision to join the team after he missed taking part in organized since graduating high school two years ago.

“It was very different experience from any other sporting event that I’ve been a part of,” Weaver said, “But it was a valuable experience. I’m excited for the next one so I can show improvement.”

Head Coach Rustin Nyce spoke of his eagerness for the next meet with this specific team. “We could race every day and keep learning,” he said. “I think this is the most intelligent team I have gotten to coach so they will learn quickly and their racing will reflect their learning.”

Rustin also mentioned his pride in Burkholder’s performance. “He has trained hard over the summer and come back to school a very different athlete,” Nyce said. “He works so hard and is a great model of what consistent, correct work will do for you.”

The Maple Leafs now look ahead to the next meet on Friday, September 21 at the Ray Bullock Invitational in Upland, Indiana. The women kick off the event at 5:00 pm EST followed by the men at 5:45 pm EST.