XC swarms top places in first two meets

The women’s cross country team poses for a photo during the North Alabama Showcase. The team secured a third place finish to follow up their perfect 15-point win at the Berry College Watermelon Run at the beginning of the month. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

Tech cross country opened their season with a pair of meets early this September. The Jackets lined up first at the Berry College Watermelon Run on Sept. 1, competing against five smaller schools. Both the men and women emerged first overall from the course with perfect scores. Senior Nick Nyman led the way in the men’s 8k run, finishing first overall with a time of 24:56. Senior Zach Jaeger followed just behind with a time of 24:57. The men completed their perfect top-five sweep with junior Alex Thomas just edging out an unattached runner at the finish line by three-tenths of a second. Tech entered 16 men in the race, who all came in under 28:30 and in the top 26 of 77 runners. 

Senior Liz Galarza came flying in for the women’s 6k race, finishing first overall at 21:24. The Jackets notched a perfect team score of 15 when junior Katy Earwood, at fifth on the team, put a bow on it, coming in at eighth overall with a time of 22:49. Tech entered 15 women who all finished under 26:16 and in the top 22 of 59 runners. 

Tech had a 15-day pause before stepping to the line again, this time against bigger competition at the North Alabama Showcase. Both teams impressed, finishing at third overall. The men rallied in the 8k, having their first five men in the top 30 in a race with 360 people. Junior John Higinbotham led Tech, coming in tenth place with a personal best time of 24:00. Senior James Cragin followed behind Higinbotham, placing 15th with a time of 24:04. The Jackets finished with a score of 109 after the fourth and fifth men, Nyman and senior Joshua Williams, came in together at 29th and 30th place. The men beat out notable programs like Auburn, Eastern Kentucky, Memphis and Georgia, while only falling short to Alabama and Kentucky. 

Tech’s women made waves in the 5k, having two runners in the top 10 overall with Galarza coming in fourth and graduate senior Helena Lindsay at seventh. Both recorded personal best times with Galarza at 16:38 and Lindsay at 16:49. The Jackets wrapped up their top three team performance with the first five being in the top 42 out of 384 runners, cementing a score of 110. The women also took out notable programs like Auburn, Eastern Kentucky, UCF and Georgia, while also falling short to just Alabama and Kentucky. 

Both the men and women look strong just four meets away from the ACC Championships. With several runners already recording personal records in early meets, the Jackets look to keep improving and climbing places. 

Up next, both the men and women will be traveling to the Lehigh Paul Short Run on Sept. 30, where the men will run an 8k and the women a 6k. The Lehigh race will feature big matchups for Tech as over 40 teams raced last year, including multiple nationally ranked teams.