November 1, 2011

U of L cross country teams finish strong at Big East Championship

By Nathan Douglas–

On Saturday, the University of Louisville men and women’s cross country teams competed in the Big East Cross-Country Championship at Tom Sawyer State Park.
The men’s team, led by senior Matt Hughes who placed third individually, placed third overall in the competitive group of teams. The race went out at near course record pace for the 8K, setting the tone for the rest of the race.

“Other than the first mile split at 4:36, I didn’t really know what kind of pace we were running. I know I’m in the shape to run that kind of time so it doesn’t really surprise me,” said Hughes.

The last time the Cardinals ran at Tom Sawyer Park was for the Greater Louisville Classic which sophomore Tyler Byrne won. Byrne placed 18th in a field of 123 runners Saturday, finishing just 20 seconds slower than his previous performance at Greater Louisville.

“I feel alright,” Byrne said. “I would’ve liked to have been a little farther up, it just wasn’t all there today.”

Given the large volume of talent in Saturday’s race, the championship could have realistically gone to anyone.

“There were six quality teams and any of the six could have won it. If you ran it three or four times I think you would get a different winner each time, its just the nature of the sport,”
said men’s head coach Joe Walker. The third place finish by the men’s team puts them in a good position for the rest of the postseason,

“I think third will help us get some national points and get us into the national meet,” said Matt Hughes.

The women’s race was no different from the men’s in the amount of very talented and nationally ranked athletes.

“We know the Big East has arguably the best women’s cross-country conference in the nation, when you have five or so teams ranked in the top 30 [in the nation], that tells you the type of competition we are going against,” said women’s coach Taryn Sheehan.

The women’s team placed 11th overall in the 6K and were led by sophomore Ariel Briggs, who finished 60th in a field of 138 runners, and freshman Madeleine Davidson, who placed 65th.

The future looks bright for the women’s team.

“We’ve got a very young, up and coming team on the women’s side so I think a lot of the personal records we got today are definitely things that we, as a team, know are good improvements,” said Sheehan.

The men and women’s cross-country teams will compete in the NCAA Southeast Regional on Nov. 12 at E P Tom Sawyer State Park.

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Photo: Nathan Douglas/The Louisville Cardinal

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