Knoxville, TN - The men's and women's cross country teams traveled to Victor Ashe Park in Knoxville, TN to compete in the 2015 Appalachian Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday. On a slick and muddy course in rainy conditions, both teams stepped up to the challenge and came through with strong results.
In the men's race, a young Cavaliers squad stepped up to the challenge of tough competition and a challenging race course to put five runners in the top-25 finishers en route to a third-place team finish. Daniel Lancaster (SO/Wilmington, NC) finished 10th overall in a time of 26:41 to earn AAC All-Conference honors. Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) put together a career-best performance, placing 14th overall in a time of 27:06. Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) finished right behind Anhold in 15th with a time of 27:13. Hincher's performance earned him a spot on the AAC All-Freshman Team. Holden Dixon (FR/Chocowinity, NC) earned a top-20 finish, placing 20th in a time of 27:22. Brandon Welborn (SO/Traphill, NC) rounded out the scoring effort for the Cavaliers, placing 24th with a time of 27:44.
In his final cross country race for the Cavaliers, senior Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) placed 29th in a time of 27:58 while Daniel Angarita (FR/Miller's Creek, NC) placed 41st in a time of 28:32. Lee Wooden (FR/Rock Hill, SC) placed 58th with a time of 29:51 and senior Joshua Kilgo (SR/Waxhaw, NC) placed 67th ina time of 31:20.
Montreat finished with 81 points to take 3rd place as a team, just behind Truett-McConnell (75) and ahead of Tennessee Wesleyan (99) and Bryan (104). Eight of the nine team members finished the race in personal-best times despite the the rough racing conditions
"I am extremely proud of how the guys came out and competed today," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "They bought in to the race plan and executed it as well as they could have. To get eight personal best times in these conditions is amazing and is evidence of the heart and effort that these men put into the race. We were hoping for a higher team finish but, at the end of the day, we could not have raced any better and you have to tip your hat to Milligan and Truett-McConnell for racing well. We came into this race as pretty much the youngest team there and this effort shows that the future is very bright here at Montreat."
In the women's race, a short-handed women's team battled through a race course that had been beaten up by the men a few minutes earlier, and came though ith a 7th place team finish, a two spot improvement from 2014. Madeline Carter (FR/Elkin, NC) led the way for Montreat, finishing 30th with a time of 22:13. Alona Kosenko (SO/Charlotte, NC) fnished 35th in a time of 22:35 while Samantha Gaskill (SR/Wilmington, NC) was close behind, finishing 38th in a time of 22:54. Sarah Smith (FR/Orlando, FL) placed 61st in a time of 25:00 and teammate Tori Combs (JR/Deep Run, NC) rounded out the scoring effort for the Cavaliers, finishing 64th in a time of 25:10. Victoria Swan (FR/Milton, WI) battled through injuries to complete the race in 92nd in a time of 33:00.
"The women came out and competed really well today," said Lewkowicz. "They had the tough task of taking on the race course after the men had chewed it up and they truly looked like they had been in battle after they crossed the finish line. All of them gave tremendous effort today and, in a race where the conditions really slowed times down, they came through with their strongest performance of the season. I am extremely proud of all of them."
Lewkowicz would go on to add, "I think we took a big step in the right direction this season. We were a really young team on both sides and only lose one senior from the scoring members. The experience we gained this year will carry over into track season and we will look to gain confidence going forward. More than anything, I love the attitude and effort that this team showed throughout the season. They bought into the training plan and we were able to rally around the idea of using our running as a means of honoring God. We've talked all season long about using our platform as runners to make much of Christ and to glorify Him in all that we do. As we continue to grow and improve, this will continue to be our foundation. I am so grateful to be a part of what God is doing at Montreat College and to be the coach of this amazing team."
The teams will take a short break before kicking off the indoor track season on December 3 at Liberty University and December 5 at the JDL Complex in Winston-Salem, NC.
Hardeeville, SC - The Montreat College women's cross country team returned to action this past Saturday, traveling to the Low Country of South Carolina to compete in the Sandshark Invitational, hosted by The University of South Carolina at Beaufort. Resting several team members, a short-handed team still came through with some strong performances.
In a field of 264 runners, Alona Kosenko (SO/Charlotte, NC) and Samantha Gaskill (SR/Wilmington, NC) led the way finishing together with a time of 21:28 for the 5k race. Madeline Carter (FR/Elkin, NC) got off to a great start and was the front-runner for the Cavaliers before she suffered an ankle injury in the second mile. Carter persevered and finished the race with a time of 22:20. Tori Combs (JR/Deep Run, NC) made her debut for Montreat and finished with a time of 26:08.
"I was proud of how our women came out and competed today," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "We have been hit hard with sickness and injury over the past few weeks and I decided to hold out a number of our runners so we will be at full strength for the AAC Championships. That said, I was pleased at the effort level we got from the ladies who did run. Madeline's injury was unfortunate, as she was off to a great start. This group continues to gain experience and is working hard every day. I'm looking forward to seeing how they finish up the season."
The cross country teams will return to Knoxville, TN on Saturday, November 7 for the Appalachian Athletic Conference cross country championships.
Charlotte, NC - The men's and women's cross country teams traveled to Charlotte on Friday to take part in the Royals XC Challenge, hosted by Queens University at McAlpine Park. Around 80 colleges and universities took part in a meet that was split into two sections. The Cavaliers took part in a special NAIA section that was developed for teams to serve as a "pre-nationals" event, as the McAlpine Park course will serve as host of the 2015 NAIA Cross Country National Championships next month.
The men took to the race against a talented field of some of the best NAIA teams in the country and finished 18th overall. The first four Cavaliers came in closely packed, with Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) leading the way with a time of 27:55. Teammate Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) was right behind Hincher in 27:56. Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) came through in 27:58 and Daniel Lancaster (SO/Wilmington, NC) in 28:00 as the top-four finished within four seconds of one another. Daniel Angarita (FR/Miller's Creek, NC) wrapped up the scoring five for the Cavaliers, finishing with a time of 29:04.
With the women's team battling some nagging injuries, head coach Jason Lewkowicz chose to rest some of the runners for the weekend. Montreat competed with four runners and Samantha Gaskill (SR/Wilmington, NC) led the way with a time of 21:29. Alona Kosenko (SO/Charlotte, NC) was the second Cavalier to cross, finishing with a time of 22:27. Madeline Carter (FR/Elkin, NC) finished the race in 23:29 and Sarah Smith (FR/Orlando, FL) came through the 5k course in 24:09.
"Today was a good learning experience for us," said Lewkowicz. The races didn't go like we wanted them to and I think we got a little caught up in the "big meet" atmosphere. Being such a young team, we've got to learn how to respond and run our race in all environments. We got humbled a bit today but the team is already using it as motivation as we move into the last part of our season."
The Cavaliers return to action on Saturday, October 24 as they take part in the Sandshark Invitational, hosted by USC-Beaufort.