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Blazers finish ninth at DII National Preview

On Saturday, Oct. 2, the Blazer’s men and women’s cross country team traveled south to Saint Leo, Fla. to run in the Division II National Preview.

The race was hosted by Saint Leo University. The men’s race was an 8k, or roughly five miles, and the women’s course was a 6k, or just over 3.5 miles.

The meet boasted some of the top teams in the country. These teams include Wingate, Fresno Pacific, Mount Olive and many others.

Head coach Todd Smoot said there were no changes in preparation for this meet.

“The team’s workout load has been building and will continue to build through the 17th,” Smoot said.

On the men’s side, the Blazers were led by Junior Brishen House. House said he has a very specific routine to get prepared for each race.

“The week of a race I do the well-known practices of high-performance: hydrate, eat and sleep right,” House said. “The morning of a race, I don’t usually listen to music, talk much to those around me or eat anything until after the race. I visualize each kilometer, how I’m going to feel and what I’m going to do to deal with the pain.”

House led the Blazers men’s team who finished ninth out of 13 total teams with a total of 225 points. House finished 31st with a time of 23:36.8, and he was followed by senior Nick Flatt (44th, 27:04.0), junior Logan Kraus (53rd, 27:26.2), junior Charlie Eaton (66th, 27:59.4) and freshman Alec Munger (76th, 28:19.8).

The Lady Blazer’s front runner was senior Angie Cipriani. She said she tried not to put a lot of stress on a time since the runners have the chance to run the race more than once if they qualify for nationals.

“Expectation-wise, I wanted to run a competitive race and focus on beating out people in our region,” Cipriani said.

The Lady Blazers ran the 6k course. Cipriani led the team to a ninth-place finish out of 10 teams, scoring 223 total points. The top five included Cipriani who finished 12th with a time of 22:59.0, junior Samantha Murray (40th, 24:29.2), senior Leah Johnson (50th, 24:52.1), freshman Caitlyn Koske (81st, 28:13.9) and freshman Kiley Matheson (88th, 30:21.1).

Conditions at the meet were worse than Smoot would like for the runners; however, he said that there were still great performances in the conditions.

“On the men’s team, four earned faster times on a course and in conditions that were harder than experienced at FSU on the 17th,” Smoot said.”One of our freshmen earned a PR–Alec Munger by 62 seconds.”

According to Smoot, the lady’s team had four runners earn faster times as well. The two freshmen that earned PR’s were Caitlyn Koske and Kiley Matheson.

The Blazers will travel to Charlotte, NC to run in the Royals Challenge at McAlpine Creek Park on Friday, Oct. 8. The women will race at 4:30 p.m. and the men will race at 5:20 p.m.

Written by Findley Tucker. Photo courtesy of VSU.

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