The men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to southern Georgia Saturday to compete in the Georgia State University Invitational. The race was a preview of the course that the teams will be running for the Southeast Regional Championships in two months. Both squads finished in second place out of four teams competing.
The men’s race only covered six kilometers, three laps of the two-kilometer course, as opposed to the usual eight kilometers that they will be traversing in November at the Regional Championships.
Junior Eddie Mulder was the first Eagle to cross the finish line, completing the 3.75 mile race in 20 minutes and 19 seconds to come in fourth overall.
“It was nice to preview the course where we will be running Regionals,” Mulder said. “[The hills on the course were] challenging, but nothing too intense.”
Junior Hank Ashforth also put up a strong performance for the Eagles. After a slow start at the team’s season opener, he returned to form this week. Ashforth finished the day placing fourth on the team and 12th overall in a time of 21 minutes and 14 seconds.
“[The team is] still training hard, making it difficult to race fast,” Ashforth said. “[This race was] another step in the right direction.”
The rest of the top seven for the Eagles included: freshman Lukas Mees, senior Stephen Ellwood, sophomore Cameron Wheeler, junior Ishan Dey and junior Alex Fleischhacker.
The men came in second to Georgia State University, losing by only two points.
The team is trying to work on running the races together, and their practice seems to be paying off, as there was only a little more than two minutes between the first and 11th place finishers on the team.
On the women’s side, the Eagles had seven of the top 15 finishes in the meet. The top seven Eagles crossed the finish line within 18 seconds of each other.
The women’s course covered a four-kilometer distance, roughly equivalent to two-and-a-half miles.
The women will return to this course in November as well, running six kilometers to defend their team title as Southeast Regional Champions.
Sophomore Tamara Surtees paced the women with a time of 16 minutes and nine seconds. Surtees credits her performance to the team’s training.
“The summer mileage and tough tempo runs have helped get us into shape for the early stages in the season, but we still have a lot of room for improvement,” Surtees said.
Another promising performance came from sophomore Elise Viox, who did not run due to injury last season. Viox crossed the line in 16 minutes and 26 seconds.
Trailing behind Surtees, the remainder of the top seven included junior Emily Caesar, sophomore Marissa Gogniat, sophomore Hannah Moriarty, freshman Aileen Rivell, sophomore Elise Viox and senior captain Calley Edwards.
Edwards attributes the team’s depth as a key to a successful season.
“We had some great races from athletes who did not place in the top seven last week,” Edwards said.
Head Coach John Curtin hopes to further narrow the spread between his top runners.
“We have a number of very capable runners, but we need to focus our efforts on racing as a pack,” Curtin said.
Overall, the women scored 45 points, 30 points behind Georgia State who scored a perfect meet with 15 points. Next up for the Eagles is the Gulf Coast Stampede in Pensacola, Fla. on Sept. 22.
– By Megan Hunter