The Troy cross country team competed at its first meet on Sept. 4 in Oxford, Alabama, at the Jacksonville State University Struts Season Opener. With 18 programs represented and over 300 runners competing, the Trojans held their own, placing third in men’s and fifth in women’s.
“For the men, it was encouraging to see a few of our freshmen compete well and execute a race plan,” said head coach Elliott Blount. “We need to see more of that across the board as the season progresses.”
Based on the men’s results, the underclassmen led the team. Freshman Brennan Garriques finished first of his team with a time of 15:46.50 in their 5K race, followed by two other freshmen, Brad Dixon and Kyle Norris, who finished with times of 15:53.62 and 15:55.34. Sophomore Dylan Ogburn and freshman Zachary Bias followed them.
“Our women have quite a bit of opportunity to improve as a team,” Blount said. “We are solid up top, but we really have to establish ourselves from runners four to seven.”
The women’s team was led by its veteran athletes, with Junior Mikayla Hodges finishing the 4K in a personal record time of 15:03.32. Senior Julia Ostendorf followed closely behind at 15:05.71.
Sophomore Sarah Zylstra finished almost a full minute faster than her season opener in 2014, with a time of 15:25.48.
Although the team has started off on the right foot, Blount is determined to continue training the athletes hard as the season progresses.
“As the first meet, it’s a decent start to the season,” he said. “However, we are back to work next week.”
The Trojans will travel again for their next meet on Friday, Sept. 11, at the Azalea City Classic in Mobile.