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Cross Country finishes strong

The University of Maine Men and Women’s Cross Country teams traveled to Bronx, N.Y. on Friday, Nov. 11 to compete in the NCAA qualifiers. The men finished in 18th place as a team out of 35 teams, running a distance of 10 kilometers, while the women finished in 36th place as a team, running a distance of six kilometers. These distances were longer than usual, as the majority of the team’s meets this year have seen the men running at eight kilometers and the women running at five.

On the men’s side, fourth-year Jessie Orach placed 22nd individually with a time of 31:15.5, about 45 seconds slower than the overall winner of the meet, Syracuse’s Justyn Knight. Orach, who has led the Black Bears in every meet thus far, averaged a mile time of 5:01.8.

After Orach came fourth-year Levi Frye in 101st place with a time of 32:37.7, followed by second-year Joshua Horne (113th), second-year Simon Powhida (122nd), fourth-year Justin Tracey (129th), second-year Aaron Willingham (142nd) and third-year Jacob Johns (174th).

Syracuse, the winner of the meet, finished with Knight and third-year Colin Bennie in first and second place, with the two finishing within .3 seconds of one another. Iona finished second in the team standings but 36 points behind Syracuse. Maine finished with an average team time of 32:30.

The women, running without their top runner Kaitlin Saulter, saw second-year Haley Lawrence cross the finish line in 22:58.4, good for 158th place. Lawrence was followed by second-year Faith Gardner (219th), fourth-year Hannah Stefl (227th), fourth-year Tiana Bibb (236th) and fourth-year Ahlin Sungsuwan (237th).

The Maine women finished with an average team time of 24:11. Providence won with an average team time of 20:41, finishing 21 points ahead of second place Harvard. New Hampshire third-year Elinor Purrier finished first overall with a time of 20:08.7. New Hampshire finished 11th in the team standings.

Though they finished second to last in this meet, the Maine women have a bright future as their top two finishers were in their second year. Saulter, their leader throughout the year, has another season left, as she enters her fourth year next season.

Orach was the only Black Bear, male or female, who had an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships next Friday in Lousiville, Ky. But he came up just short, as the top-four men who weren’t on a qualifying team got a bid and he was just outside the top four in that category. Orach established himself as the top runner in New England this season, finishing first in the America East meet last week.

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