Troy struggled in a competitive field of play at the Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
The Trojan men placed eighth out of 10 teams, while the women placed 10th out of 12 teams. The tournament, held in Dothan, featured first-place overall finishes from Appalachian State’s women and UT-Arlington on the men’s side.
For the women, Troy was led by senior Samantha Smith, who finished 26th out of 82 athletes. Smith was paced at an average mile of 6:17.6 on her way to a 19:34.3 finish in the 5k race.
Finishing behind Smith was junior Sara Zylstra, who used a time of 20:02.7 to lay claim to 42nd place. Erika Kulp and Mikayla Hodges finished behind Zylstra, finishing in 52nd and 53rd place, respectively. Kulp finished with a time of 20:27.5, while Hodges ran a time of 20:31.5.
Katherine Lowe and Katrina Bokenfohr took 62nd and 63rd, just ahead of Krystin Guirey who placed 68th.
“We came out here two weeks ago with the women, and they all ran faster,” Head Coach Elliot Blount said. “We took a step back in the conference standings, which is a testament to how good this conference is.”
In the men’s 8k race, Bradley Dixon was the highest-placing Trojan, taking 28th with a time of 26:24.3 and an average mile of 5:18.8.
Close behind Dixon were a number of Trojans, including Daniel Glick, who raced to 32nd place with a time of 26:29.6. Six spots behind Glick was Ryan DeGale, who had a time of 26:52.7.
Two more spots after him came Brennan Garriques, who earned 40th place with a time of 27:03.3. Garriques finished one spot in front of teammate Sawyer Sprung and his 27:05.7 time.
Eric Schueller and Zachary Bias rounded out the Trojans in the event, with Schueller finishing 51st and Bias placing 54th out of 64 runners.
“On the men’s side, we didn’t run our best,” Blount said. “We needed a perfectly run race and a perfectly executed race, and we just didn’t do that today.
“We fell a little flat. You can chalk it up to being a little green, a little young, but we just didn’t perform. There’s no excuse for that.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have a young program. I’m still very excited for the direction of the overall program. We just need to learn how to perform at big meets for both the men and women.”
The men’s team will have a chance to do that when it travels to Tallahassee for the NCAA South Regional Championship on Nov. 11. It will be the final meet for the Troy cross-country teams this year.