SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Oct. 28, 2017) – Going into Saturday’s Southern Conference Cross Country Championships, ETSU head coach George Watts said, “top three finishes are very realistic” for both Bucs teams.
He got that, and a little more.
The ETSU men finished 2nd and the women 3rd on a cloudy, 56-degree day on the Milliken Research Center course in Spartanburg, S.C.
It was the best showing for the Buc men since 2014 and the second straight 3rd-place showing for the women.
Six ETSU athletes received all-conference recognition. Men’s runners Ben Varghese (Kingsport, Tenn.), Noah Charles (Johnson City, Tenn.) and James Garst (Jonesborough, Tenn.), and women’s squad member Lindsey Stallworth (Knoxville, Tenn.), earned a spot on the All-SoCon 2nd Team.
Stallworth was named the women’s All-Freshman Team. Varghese and Charles were joined by Louis Morris (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Malick Gemechu (Johnson City, Tenn.) on the men’s team.
Saturday's race was on the same course where the Bucs swept the team titles at the USC Upstate Invite on September 30.
"It was certainly an advantage to having raced on the course earlier this season," Watts said. "Our women's team had several personal and seasonal bests and ran their best race of the season. Our men had a similar race and ran strongly over the last 2000 meters to secure second place."
The ETSU men scored 61 points in their runner-up finish. Furman totaled a best-possible 15 points on the way to its fifth consecutive title. Samford was in 3rd with 71 points, with Chattanooga (120) and VMI (160) filling out the top five.
The Buc women scored 97 points in coming home 3rd. Furman won its fifth consecutive title with 23 points, 20 better than runner-up Samford. Chattanooga (141) and UNC-Greensboro (167) respectively finished 4th and 5th.
Varghese was the ETSU men’s top performer, covering the 8K in 24:33.5 to finish 9th. Charles was 11th at 25:11.8 and Garst -- who was the Freshman of the Year at the 2015 SoCon meet – was 12th on Saturday at 25:17.2
Sophomore Adam Bradtmueller (Sarasota, Fla.) was just two seconds behind Garst, crossing the line in 13th place at 25:19.4. Fellow sophomore Nathan Longfellow (Cookeville, Tenn.) produced the Bucs’ last scoring position, finishing 16th in the scoring at 25:26.6
In the women’s 5K, Stallworth crossed the line in 12th place at 17:34.3. Senior Emily Williams-McElroy (Bristol, Tenn.) was 17th in the scoring at 18:08.30, with sophomore Kaitlyn Lay (Knoxville, Tenn.) one sport further back with a time of 18:12.6.
Senior Macy Carrier (Bluff City, Tenn.) was 22nd in the scoring at 18:29.1, and freshman Heather Feuchtenberger (Elizabethton, Tenn.) rounded out the Bucs’ top five with a 28th-place finish at 18:45.0.
"We have two young teams and it showed with four of our kids earning All Freshman honors," Watts said, "and Noah Charles and James Garst ran the best races of their careers."
In other results, freshman Makayla Shaw (Jonesborough, Tenn.) was 32nd in the women's race at 19:01.2, freshman Colbie Williamson (Clyde, N.C) was 37th at 19:05.7, junior Nicki Smith (Urbandale, Iowa) was 47th overall at 19:10.6, and freshman Lindsay Bruce (Knoxville, Tenn.) finished 49th at 19:15.2.
Elsewhere in the men’s race, Morris was 19th in the scoring at 25:48.0, sophomore Nick Horne (Blountville, Tenn.) was 21st at 25:53.8, and Gemechu was 26th overall at 26:04.8. Senior Daniel Sonnenfeldt (Knoxville, Tenn.) finished 48th overall at 27:15.0.
Allie Buchalski of Furman was the women’s individual champion, besting runner-up Karisa Nelson of Samford by more than 20 seconds. Aaron Templeton led Furman’s sweep of the men’s top five.
Both races saw 81 runners compete.
"I especially want to thank all of the parents, family, alumni, and the ETSU track and field team members for making the trip to Spartanburg to support the Bucs," said Watts. "It was absolutely amazing to see so much Blue and Gold at a cross country meet."
Up next for the Bucs is the NCAA South Regional meet in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Friday, November 10.
For more information on Buccaneer Cross Country, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the cross country pages. Follow ETSU cross country on Twitter @ETSU_TF_XC