The Trojan men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed second at the Azalea City Classic on Friday, Sept. 11, in Mobile. For the first time this season, both teams ran 6K and 8K distances, as opposed to last week’s 4K and 5K.
The hosting South Alabama team ruled the men’s race, taking seven of the top 10 spots. Jaguar junior Christoph Graf dominated the field by coming in 55 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, his sophomore teammate Nathan Riech.
“On the men’s side, we still need more out of our upperclassmen to become a well-rounded team with consistent depth by the time we get to the conference meet,” said head cross country coach Elliott Blount.
Once again, it was the younger athletes on the Trojan men’s team who paved the way for success in their race. Freshman Ryan DeGale led the way, taking ninth place overall in his collegiate debut.
The next Trojan runners to finish were freshman Zachary Bias, junior Tim Bulger, sophomore Eric Schueller and freshman Austin Gray. These four athletes came in one after the other, placing 12th through 15th.
“We’re starting to move in the right direction,” Blount said. “We didn’t travel our full squad on either side, so it was good to see we were able to still be competitive despite being a little shorthanded.”
The Trojan women did not disappoint, with three runners finishing in the top 10. Just as they hoped, the women beat conference rival South Alabama.
Senior Julia Ostendorf came in sixth place overall with an average mile time of 5:58.5. A slight two seconds behind, junior Mikayla Hodges finished seventh. Junior Samantha Smith ran a new personal record in the 6K, averaging 6:08.4 per mile and coming in six seconds shy of 23 minutes.
The next Trojan runner to complete the race was sophomore Sarah Zylstra, just nine seconds later, taking 11th place. One minute later, sophomore Keaton Wallace set another personal record, with an average mile time of 6:27.3.
The Trojans compete again on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Mountain Dew Invitational hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville.