On Saturday the cross country team ran in Eugene, Ore., against their first nationally ranked competition. After finishing in first place in their first two races, both the men’s and women’s teams finished in eighth place out of nine teams.
The competition included No. 1 ranked Oregon, and several other top-30 ranked teams in the national poll.
For the men’s team, junior Jeremy Freed was the first Ram to cross the finish line, in 16th place overall. He was followed by teammate Daniel Wallis, almost 29 seconds later in 38th place.
“We did a few things right and finished right behind a good UTEP team, but we still have areas we need to work on,” head coach Bryan Berryhill said.
The women were led by redshirt freshman Ellie Rastall in 21st place, followed closely by 24th place Marissa Saunders. Rastall has paced the Rams in all three races so far this season, leading the team in every race. The women’s team came into the season with high expectations, being ranked 17th in the national poll, but for many of the female runners this was their first big college race.
“We are a young team, and we ran like it. We got out-competed at the front of the race,” Berryhill said. “This will be tough to work through, but it will give us a reason to come back more motivated.”
This race was the first big race in the season, and the Rams will have more opportunities to bounce back and prove themselves once again worthy of national recognition.
Both teams will have two weeks to practice before their next competition. The next race will be the NCAA pre-nationals on Oct. 18 in Terre Haute, Indiana. It will be the same course that the 2008 NCAA championships will be held on in late November.
Cross country beat writer Scott Callahan can be reached at email@example.com.