The UCA men’s and women’s cross country teams performed in their season opener, bringing home second place for the men’s team and ninth place for the women’s team.
The Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic hosted 26 teams Sept. 5 at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis.
“We’ve been third…the last three years in a row. As a team, we knew we could do better,” senior Ryan Davidson said. “We knew we could compete. So, to get second was awesome.”
Freshman Markus Schweikert led the men’s team with a 20:29.48 running time on a four-mile course and placed 10th out of 258 athletes. Senior Josh Quiroga came in 19th with a 20:43.65 running time. Sophomore Preston Borg followed close behind Quiroga, placing 21st with a time of 20:45.01, and seniors Davidson and Albert Maeder rounded out the upper rankings. Davidson came in 23rd (20:46.24) and Maeder placed 26th (20:49.50).
“The race itself had more people in it [than previous years]and a lot were faster at the start [of the race],” Davidson said. “There were more people running at the same speed, which was a shock to us.”
University of Alabama won first place at the meet, with Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Harding and Arkansas State following behind UCA and rounding out the top six collegiate teams. The meet was a good starter for the men’s team because the terrain was not as challenging, with only one small hill.
“It was mostly flat and just on soccer field,” Davidson said. “But the grass was really nice and the atmosphere of the course was good.”
The women’s competition was a 5K race with 249 runners. While the women’s cross-country team placed lower overall, several students still had impressive running times.
Junior Brigette Caruthers placed 26th with a 18:45.59 running time.
Freshman Taylor Dunn was the closest behind Caruthers, placing 47th at a time of 19:30.86. Sophomore Abigail Topham placed 49th at 19:34.84 and freshman Sara Shaw came in 58th at 19:51.53.
“The only real issues were that it was hot and humid, and it was in the evening when we are used to racing in the mornings,” Caruthers said. “But we are only three weeks into training. What matters is how we run later down the stretch.”
To prepare for future races, Davidson said the men’s cross country team needs to work on running tracks with more varied heights than the team experienced in Memphis.
“We know we have some hilly courses coming up… [and]everybody is really pumped to move forward,” Davidson said. “Our next race is at Texas A&M. There are a lot of conference teams there…and a lot of those guys are really fast, so we’re ready to take that on.”
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
image via memphis-twilight-cross-country-classic.runnerspace.com