Both GW men’s and women’s cross country teams placed second behind East Carolina University in Saturday’s Overton-Pirate Invitational meet in Greenville, N.C. Junior David Talbird led the men’s race finishing fifth out of 39 runners. Freshman Mary Beth McCullough placed sixth out of 29 runners to lead the women’s team.
Talbird ran a 26:13, 23 seconds behind the race winner Chris Westerkamp, who ran independent.
“My impact as the top runner is to set the standard as to where our team should be,” Talbird said. But Talbird said what is more important than his top finish is a solid overall team finish.
“It’s not the number one runner that causes a team to do well,” Talbird said. “It’s the (team’s) top three, four and five finishers.”
Talbird did say that while wins come from strong performances from the middle, his recent strong finishes help set the tone for the team.
“If I finish consistently well it may help the rest of the team and give them confidence,” Talbird said.
GW placed second because they were able to shore up the middle of the pack. Freshman Tim Persico broke his own personal record with a 26:48, good for an eighth-place finish. Following Persico was sophomore Darrell Andruski who placed ninth with a 26:49. Sophomore David Azari ran a 27:01 for 12th place and Chris Zurich placed 15th with a 27:17.
While it was a good finish for the men’s team, Talbird admitted the Colonials were not as excited as they have been in the past when the competitive field was stronger. He said had the team been as focused as they were in the GW Invitational last weekend, they could have beaten Eastern Carolina.
He said the team was more pleased with last week’s fourth-place finish at the GW Invitational than its second place finish this weekend.
“If we can improve on our performance from the GW Invitational, we’ll have a really good shot in the conference,” Talbird said.
East Carolina racked up 34 points for the men’s win, followed by GW with 39 points, Howard’s 67 points, and UNC-Wilmington’s 78 points.
The East Carolina women’s team amassed 23 points for the win, followed by GW which had 50 points and UNC-Wilmington which had 58 points.
Freshman Mary Beth McCullough led the GW women’s squad, with a 19:10, a 29-second improvement from her GW Invitational time.
Close behind her was 8th place finisher Emily Jadwin, who ran a 19:13. Jenee Peterson, Erin Patton and Mary Caterina Bolton crossed the finish line in 11th, 12th and 13th place, respectively.
Having struggled through some difficult meets last week, GW proved that they could overcome a challenge by fighting their way to a second place finish. Last week, the men finished fourth and the women in tenth.
La Salle currently leads the A-10 in both men’s and women’s cross country. The men’s cross country team is currently ranked seventh overall while the women’s team is ranked tenth. With only a few weeks left until the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Championships and the A-10 championships, the time is now for cross country to step it up and finish their first season with a winning record.