Men’s, women’s XC finding podium often

Tech’s Sarah Copeland passes a Samford runner during the Oct. 2 race. Copeland was the first overall finisher for the event and helped Tech secure a podium finish. // Photo by Julia Balot Student Publications

Tech cross country is off to a fast start, performing well in their first three meets. Both teams have multiple top-three finishes at regional events and the women’s team has yet to place worse than sixth in any meet. Between two meets in Georgia and a trip to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational, the team has stayed busy. One meet remains, this time in Pennsylvania, before the ACC and NCAA championships, the former being later this month.

The season began in nearby Kennesaw, GA as both teams dominated and earned first place finishes. Tech swept the men’s podium and held seven of the next ten spots as well. Senior James Cragin took the top spot, followed by sophomore John Higinbotham and junior Zach Jaegar for the podium sweep. All five Tech scorers finished their 6k race in under 18:45. Five more Jacket runners finished in the top 13.

The women’s team was similarly strong. Senior Nicole Fegans continued her reign of dominance from last season with a first place finish and a sub-14 minute time for the 4k. The third through fifth place finishers were also Jackets; senior Liz Galarza, freshman Sarah Copeland and senior Claire Moritz rounded out the top five. Sophomore Katy Earwood was Tech’s final scorer. All five scorers finished under 15:02.

While not having quite the same level of dominance as in Kennesaw, the women’s team performed well again in Minnesota. Fegans secured another top-ten finish with a 21:09.1 6k time while Galarza and Moritz finished two-tenths of a second apart for a pair of top-25 scores. Copeland and Earwood again rounded out the top-five as Tech finished sixth out of 21 teams.

Jaeger and Cragin were the top two finishers for the Tech men, both crossing with times under 25:30 for the 8k race. Junior Nick Nyman, sophomore Jack Voss and junior Lief Andersen rounded out Tech’s top five as all scorers finished in the top 100. The team could not replicate their success from Kennesaw, though, as they took 13th of 21 teams present.

Returning home, Tech prepared for the Alexander/Asics Invitational in Fairburn, Georgia. The men’s team started things off with a second place finish in the 8k. Senior David Reteneller led the pack with a top-ten finish and a 25:49.65 time. Sophomores Alex Thomas, Charlie Smith, Tristan Autry and senior Harrison Morris scored for Tech as well. All scorers finished under 26:21 and the Jacket men took home a second-place finish. Myles Collins ran as an unattached contestant for Tech as well, finishing eighth overall with a time of 25:38.11.

Asked about his thoughts on the race, Thomas said, “Going into this race we were coming back from a tough race, Roy Griak in Minnesota and we just wanted to capitalize on this one and come back from a race that we didn’t think was a Georgia Tech-style race.”

The women were led by Copeland with a 17:38.14 time. Junior Gillian Filer, sophomore Ashley Sechrest, sophomore Erin Fegans and senior Clay McKnight scored as well for Tech, all finishing with sub-19:23 times.

Tech women took third in the event, adding to a strong season. Both teams have found the podium twice in their first three meets this season.

After the Alexander/Asics Invitational, Sechrest said, “Last race was kind of tough, the course was hard … but after that I just wanted to focus on executing my race, running it right. This course was really nice.”

Copeland, Tech’s top scorer for the race, echoed Sechrest’s sentiments, and when asked about the upcoming race in Pennsylvania said, “[We’re] really excited, obviously as a team we’ve been training really hard and executing some good workouts. I think the team is strong enough to do really well.”

The final meet of the regular season comes to Big Ten country for the Penn State National Open on Oct. 15. Two weeks of rest will follow before the ACC Championships on Oct. 29 in South Bend, Indiana. The NCAA South Regionals will be Friday, Nov. 12 in Huntsville, AL, followed by the NCAA Championships the next weekend in Tallahassee, FL. Tech women hope to return to the NCAA Championships for another consecutive year, while the men hope to make a return.

Julia Balot contributed reporting from Fairburn, GA