Although both the men’s and women’s cross country teams finished in second place at last Saturday’s Florida Invite in Gainesville, USF coach Greg Thiel wasn’t content with how the meet went.
It wasn’t placing second that upset Thiel, but the competition, or lack thereof, at the meet.
“Unfortunately, at this weekend’s meet we were really disappointed because there weren’t very many teams there,” Thiel said.
Thiel said the lack of competition meant he could not gauge how his teams stacked up against some of the other programs in the country as he originally anticipated.
“I’m glad the teams finished where they did, but it wasn’t a good indication for anything,” Thiel said. “We saw some things on how they competed, but we’re disappointed that no one was there.”
Junior All-American Christa Benton once again paced the women’s squad, claiming her second individual title in as many races by finishing the 6k course in 17:49.22. For her consecutive victories, Benton was named the Conference USA Female Athlete of the Week Monday.
Teammate Jessica Hellender (18:05.32) followed in second place, while Bente General (18:25.85) finished sixth.
The women’s team also benefited from good performances by freshmen Kristen Poulos and Sara Hall, who each finished in the top 20 for the second consecutive race. Poulos’ time of 19:37.31 was good enough for 19th place, with Hall finishing 16 seconds later in 20th.
“They were (competitive) and they tried to move up on some people,” Thiel said.
However, the coach isn’t ready to jump to conclusions about the success of his younger runners so early in the season.
“I hope they can keep that going, but we’ll just have to wait and see when there is a couple hundred runners in the race,” Thiel said.
After notching his first collegiate victory last week in Indiana, sophomore Sean Burris followed up with a sixth place finish, completing the 8k course in 25:26.68.
Senior Adam Chumbley was the only other Bulls runner to finish in the top 10, claiming eighth place in 25:38.80.
Sophomore Derek Lincoln finished 17th (26:43.53) and freshman Coe Fedorenko rounded out the pack in 27th (27.52.09).
Although the Bulls are off this weekend, they return to action Sept. 20 at the Bulldog Stampede in Athens, Ga. Thiel said that race should give him an indication on where his teams stand against some of the nation’s top programs.