NEW ORLEANS, La. – Following the meet this morning, the Loyola University New Orleans cross country team left Rome, Georgia feeling confident about their potential as the SSAC Conference Championship quickly approaches on November 5.
Both the men and women’s team met head coach Andy Canegitta’s expectations of finishing in the middle of the SSAC pack, and now have a better idea on what the top conference foes will bring to the table.
Overall, the women’s team claimed 16th place out of 35 teams in the 5K race, scoring 447 points with an average time of 20:56. Sophomore standout Vanessa Righeimer once again led the ‘Pack, securing an impressive 55th place finish out of a total 310 competitors. She posted a time of 20:04.
Rounding out the top five for the women were Jenna Knoblach (20:47) in 90th, Denise Powell (20:48) in 91st, Mary Clara Hutchison (21:25) in 137th, and Raquel Derganz-Baker (21:38) in 151st place.
“We ran short handed today with two out of our top five girls dropping out due to injury, with one before and one during the race,” explained Coach Canegitta. “However, this gave a chance for other girls to step up, and I’m thrilled that they came through. We beat most of the schools I expected us to beat.”
The men’s team achieved a 22nd place finish today out of 34 teams in the 8K event, scoring 663 points with an average time of 28:43. The successful time was a whole minute faster than last year’s average time at the Southeast Classic. Freshman Paul Freese rose to the occasion today, leading the men with a 104th place finish and time of 27:48.
The future indeed seems bright for Loyola, as the top five for the ‘Pack was taken over by all freshmen. Adding to Freese’s performance was Henry Gerbracht (28:06) in 128th, Dylan DiMartino (28:44) in 168th, Casey Shaw (29:17) in 198th, and Scott Clemens (29:39) in 206th place.
“The guys were not 100% but ran pretty well. They will definitely be healthy, primed, and ready to go next weekend,” continues Canegitta. “Thanks to this meet, we now know who to keep an eye on and who we’ll need to catch in the SSAC Conference meet.”
In terms of SSAC schools only, the ‘Pack finished in fourth out of nine teams in both the women’s and men’s races. On the men’s side, Emmanuel (421 points), Truett-McConnell (464 pts), and Lee (476 pts) squeezed by the Wolfpack, while Shorter (232 pts), Lee (369 pts), and Southern Wesleyan (417 pts) finished in front of the women.
The top collegiate runners today were Sharon Ronoh and Evans Kirwa from Lindsey Wilson and Embry Riddle respectively. Ronoh accomplished a time of 17:49 while Kirwa clocked in at 24:17. Indiana Wesleyan was the top women’s team, scoring 107 points with an average time of 19:10. Bryan College claimed the top prize for the men with 65 points and an average time of 25:48.
Loyola will return to action November 5 for the SSAC Championship in Clinton, Mississippi. Be sure to follow the Wolfpack on facebook and twitter as the cross country team attempts their first top two finish under Andy Canegitta at the SSAC Conference Championship.
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