The Goshen College men’s and women’s cross country teams finished in third and fifth place respectively Friday in the highly anticipated Crossroads League Preview hosted by Marian University on the Northwoods Church Course.Vincent Kibunja, a Monroe College sophomore transfer and Kenya native did not compete in the Leafs’ opening event, but came out of the gate strong in his first race in Goshen purple with a finish of 28 minutes, 17.77 seconds. Kibunja finished in 14th place, nearly a minute and a half behind Taylor University runner Josh Roth, who finished in 26:43.91.
Goshen also saw four other runners cross the finish line in the top-30 of the other seven competing teams and 87 participants. All other competing college and universities are members of the Crossroads League, hence the name of the Invitational. Taylor and Indiana Wesleyan were the lone two teams to finish in front of the Leafs with team scores of 26 and 42. They were levels ahead of third place Goshen who finished the team portion of the event with 111.
Sophomores Juan Perez and Steven Cranston finished in the 20th and 22nd spots respectively. Perez finished nearly 16 seconds behind Kibunja and nearly one minute shy of his opening performance in 28:33.18 with Cranston right on his tail at 28:35.10. Cranston was also seemingly bothered throughout the race as the reigning all-conference recipient finished over two minutes slower than his previous time of 26:21.
Quinton Read finished in 29th and Isaiah Friesen 30th to round out the top-30 finishes. Read posted a 28:55.41 with Friesen just behind at 28:58.07.
The women’s cross country team saw leading individuals struggle but yielded their second straight fifth place performance. Underclassmen Sierra Ross Richer and Chelsea Foster remained atop the team scorecard but flip-flopped positions at the one and two spots from Goshen’s previous race by a margin of less than one second. The friendly competition saw the two finishes in the 21st and 22nd position respectively. Richer out-legged her counterpart with a time of 20 minutes, 25.24 seconds compared to Foster’s 20:46.41. Foster finished just under one minute slower than her previous 19:41.5 finish just one week ago to concede her top spot.
Senior Jill Steinmetz was the next Leaf to finish the trek in the 32nd position followed by Nora Rangel, Siana Emery, Megan Graber and Jenae Stutzman in the order listed. Steinmetz, the lone senior on the team, finished in the exact same position as her previous attempt last Friday. The order of finishes was identical following the Ross Richer and Foster switch apart from Megan Graber and Jenae Stutzman at the bottom.
Taylor and Marian University claimed the top two spots of the event with team totals of 23 and 63. Goshen finished the evening with a team total of 149.
Both teams will receive a much-needed breather before continuing their season on Saturday, September 30 at the Louisville Sports Commission Country Classic. The race is set to begin at 5 p.m.