Cross country wins Denison Invitational

The cross country team has started off the season with two weekends of success. After having a pre-conference race hosted at Denison on September 13, 2014 Coach Brent Wilkerson is confident in the team’s performance.

The cross country team emerged as champions at the Denison Invitational, totaling a score of 26 points. The team proved themselves being eight points ahead of Denison.

“Men and women are doing really well,” Wilkerson said. “Both teams have put in a lot of work over the summer time.”

The pre-conference meets are a chance for runners to familiarize themselves with the course and to get a feel of who they will be running against in the conference. It serves as a time for them to practice and get a sense of what they need to work on.

“Both teams won their last race and it was against all conference competition, which is good news,” Wilkerson said.

At the Denison Invitational, the women finished the race in a pack, with Marisa Brown, ’15, leading and Ariel Rittenhouse, ’18, following a couple seconds behind.

“I wasn’t completely happy with my performance, but I think it was a good start,” Rittenhouse said. “I was really glad I was able to contribute to the team. I look forward to dropping time in the next meet now that I have established a starting base time and I look forward to the Gators having a close running pack.”

Brown finished the race with a time of 24:03.4 in the 6k race.

“It was a really fun race for the top four or five girls to work with each other and to push each other to work a little bit harder and to move up closer to the top girls,” Brown said. “I was really focusing on controlling my race and pushing the second half more than the first. I am really excited to see how the team continues to improve, especially at the Paul Short race this weekend.”

Rittenhouse, who was following right behind Brown finished at a time of 24:09.9.

Finishing fifth were S.J Guillaume, ’17, with a time of 24:20.1 and Alyssa Brindlesixth, ’16, finishing at 24:27.4. These women finished within a couple of seconds of each other. The pack has a complex dynamic with veteran Brown leading the pack and Rittenhouse following her.

“This is the first year we had a pack of runners, they finished within ten seconds of each other. That’s the kind of team that does well in a championship,” WIlkerson said.

The Men’s Cross Country team showed excellence at the Denison Invitational as well, with Logan Steiner, ’16, winning the 8k race with a time of 26:42.3. Steiner was ten seconds ahead of the second place runner from Denison.

“A lot of our top guys were out due to injuries, so seeing us do well as a whole was really awesome,” Steiner said. “It really made me realize that we aren’t anything without each other. Not one runner is more valuable than the other.”

Following Steiner was Randy Violette, ’15, who finished 4th place overall with a time of 27:13.7.

“Randy Violette is transitioning from being a guy that was outside of our top 7 and is now our 2nd best runner. He’s going through a lot of changes and has worked through an injury last year. He works diligently.” said Wilkerson.

The men’s team had six runners finish in the top eleven at the invitational.

The Conference consisted of the teams participating in the all-conference meets. The Gators placed with 26 total points from the invitational, with Denison following with 30 points.

“The course seems like it will be pretty easy,” Wilkerson said.

The Gators are ranked 20th in the Division III poll and will be back to face these teams on October 4th at the Paul Short Classic.