The Oglethorpe men's cross country team enjoyed an excellent start to their season Friday night at the Georgia NCAA Division III Invitational in Mount Berry, finishing second at the meet and earning seven individual top 30 finishes. The meet featured Division III teams from within the state, and only regional power Emory was able to best the Stormy Petrels, who finished with an average time of 28 minutes, 6 seconds around the eight-kilometer course.
Freshman Jacob Haddon led the Petrels on the evening, finishing fifth individually in 27:21.8. That mark served as the freshman school record in the men's eight-kilometer, and the fourth-fastest time in school history. Sophomore Mateo Villa followed with a time of 27:46.0, putting himself in eighth place and beating his previous personal record. Oglethorpe had one other top 20 finisher, as sophomore Nick Berardi posted a 19th-place finish at 28:20.3, also improving his personal record. Freshman Ousman Faal finished 22nd in 28:27.3, while sophomore Andrew Aycock, junior Rodrigo Meade and freshman Bill Lester finished 26th through 28th, respectively, all coming in under 28:45. Aycock finished with a personal record of his own at 28:38.01. Freshman Jackson Reilly and sophomore Nick Evans both finished in the top half of the individual field, coming in 33rd and 36th, respectively.
On the women's side, freshman Reagan Goodwin led the way in her first collegiate meet, finishing 14th in 25:04.5 on the six-kilometer course. That mark served as the third-fastest time in school history in the women's six-kilometer. Fellow freshman Courtney Stuart finished second among Petrels, coming in 38th with a time of 26:47.6. Junior Kara Jones also came in at under 28 minutes, posting a time of 27:50.7.
"This was a great first race of the season for our group," said Oglethorpe head coach Kirk Shellhouse. "It was good to get out on the course and shake some of the offseason rust off. We did some things that we haven't done in a long time, as far as individual marks go, and I'm excited to see how this group matures and improves over the course of the season."
The Petrels will next be in action on Saturday, Sept. 9, when they travel to Greenville, South Carolina, for the Furman Invitational. Oglethorpe will get a look at a variety of Division I and Division II competition at that meet and at the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville, Florida, on Sept. 23.