Swannanoa, NC - The Montreat College men's and women's cross country teams didn't have far to travel for their second competition of the season, making the short trip to Swannanoa for the UNC-Asheville XC Carnival Saturday morning. The Cavaliers went up against some strong competition and were able to produce some solid results.
The morning kicked off with the Montreat men competing in their first 8k race of the season. The field of eight teams included five NCAA Division I institutions and an NCAA Division II school. The men got off to a great start and wound up finishing as the top non D-I team in 6th overall, just behind Presbyterian College. Despite this race being the team's first competition at the full championship race distance, a number of the Cavalier men posted personal best times on the rolling course. The Cavaliers were led by Daniel Lancaster (SO/Wilmington, NC) who placed 18th overall with a personal best time of 26:53. Freshman Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) had a tremendous 8k debut, placing second on the team (30th overall) in a time of 27:21. Senior Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) placed third for the men (34th overall), also running a personal best time of 27:32. Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) (39th - 27:50.70) and Holden Dixon (FR/Chocowinity, NC) (48th - 28:10). rounded out the top-5 scoring for the men. Brandon Welborn (SO/Traphill, NC) (50th - 28:23) and Daniel Angarita (FR/Miller's Creek, NC) (54th - 28:57) also had strong races and finished as top-7 runners for the Cavaliers.
"I thought that the men came out and competed really well this morning," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "We are in a really tough part of our training right now so for these upperclassmen to drop personal best times and the freshman to debut so well in their first 8k shows the progress that we are making. If we want to challenge for an AAC title in November, we'll have to continue to build off of this momentum and put our training gains into practice come race day. Overall, I am really proud of the team and think that they have big things in store as the season goes on."
The women's team showed huge improvements from their last race two weeks ago, earning a 7th place team finish overall. Alona Kosenko (SO/Charlotte, NC) once again led the effort for the women, placing 56th with a time of 22:16. Teammate Samantha Gaskill (SR/Wilmington, NC) was close behind, earning a new personal best time of 22:35 to place 57th in the race. Madeline Carter (FR/Elkin, NC) finished third for the Cavaliers, placing 60th with a time of 22:58. Sarah Smith (FR/Orlando, FL) (64th - 24:04) and Mikayla Poulter (69th - 25:20) rounded out the scoring for the Montreat women. Assistant coach Breanna Newton made her season debut, placing 7th overall with a time of 19:09.
"It was great to see the ladies come out and get after it this morning," said Lewkowicz. "We've ben a little beat up through this part of our training but the team persevered and we saw some big time drops from our first race two weeks ago. This is a good sign that the hard work they are putting in will continue to pay off. As the season goes on, I expect this team to grow in confidence and when that confidence matches the level of their ability, you will see them really take a big step forward. That said, I am really proud of the effort they gave today and look forward to seeing where they go from here."
Lewkowicz went on to say, "It was a really great atmosphere for cross country this morning and we are all so grateful for how well Montreat nation came out to support us today! I am so blessed to coach this group and to be able to go out and use running cross country as a means of glorifying our great God and to honor Him through our attitude and effort. Although we are pleased with this performance today, I know that the team is not going to let this be the high point of the season. We'll get back to work and continue to improve as we prepare for what is in store for us.
The Cavaliers return to action next Friday, September 25. The men will travel to Charlotte, NC to compete in the UNCC Invitational at McAlpine Park while the women will compete at the Brevard College XC Invitational in Brevard, NC.
Knoxville, TN - The Montreat men's and women's cross country teams kicked off their season Saturday, traveling to Knoxville, TN to compete in the Victor Ashe Fall XC Classic.
The men's team got off to a great start and used that momentum to come through with a 2nd place team finish. Sophomore Daniel Lancaster (SO/Wilmington, NC) led the way for the Cavaliers, covering the hilly 5k course in 17:01 to finish 6th overall. Rylan Hincher (FR/Noth Wilkesboro, NC) made his collegiate debut a memorable one as he earned a spot in the top-ten with his tenth place finish (17:27). Hincher was followed closely behind by Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) (12th - 17:29) and Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) (13th - 17:39) while Brandon Welborn (SO/Traphill, NC) rounded out the top-five with a 22nd-place finish (17:55). The Cavaliers finished with 54 team points, just behind winner and #21 ranked Tennessee Wesleyan and ahead of NCAA Division II Carson-Newman.
"I was proud of how the men came out and competed this morning, said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "We are very early in our season and this race is mainly used as an opportunity to train and learn what goes into preparing to race well at the end of the season when it counts. With that said, it was good for them to see runners from other teams and to preview the course where we will compete for an AAC championship in November."
The young Cavalier women's team followed and gained some valuable experience early in the season. The sophomore duo of Alona Kosenko (SO/Charlotte, NC) (27th - 23:57) and Samantha Gaskill (SR/Wilmington, NC) (28th - 23:58) led the way for the team with Madeline Carter (FR/Elkin, NC) finishing in 34th place (24:34) to take the third spot for the Cavaliers. Abbey Chevalier (43rd - 25:29) and MiKayla Poulter (SO/Hickory, NC) (46th - 25:37) rounded out the top-five for the women, who defeated AAC opponents St. Andrews and Union (KY) to earn a fifth-place team finish.
"The results might not show it today, but I thought our women came out and competed very well," explained Lewkowicz. We have a young and inexperienced group and many of them are just now learning what it means to train at the intensity level expected of a collegiate runner. I see positive strides every day with this group and they showed today that their is a ton of potential. I am excited to return back here in November for the AAC meet and see how much the women have improved in that time"
Lewkowicz went on to say, "I am really proud of both teams and how they carried themselves today. We are learning what it means to devote our efforts to Jesus and seek to honor Him with all that we are doing. This group is taking ownership of that and desires to make this season about His fame and glory. If we keep that focus and mission, I believe that the results will take care of themselves."
As Lewkowicz mentioned, the course today will be the site of the 2015 Appalachian Athletic Conference Championships on November 7. The cross country teams will compete again on September 19th at the UNC-Asheville Fall XC Classic at Asheville Christian Academy in Swannanoa, NC.
As the Montreat College cross country teams set their sights on the 2015 season, there are new faces all around a program that is seeking to make an impact in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Head Coach Jason Lewkowicz enters his first season at the helm of the Cavalier cross country program and has brought along eighteen newcomers to join a solid core of returning runners.