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Spartans place at SoCon Cross Country Championships


Jenna Reiter
MACON, GA - It was prime conditions for the 91st running of the SoCon Cross Country Championships Saturday, with the Spartans competing alongside the other nine members of the Southern Conference in the men’s 8K and women’s 5K. Both the UNCG men and women were able to grab fourth-place finishes as a team, with Furman securing its eighth consecutive title on both sides.

“I’m just very impressed with the overall team effort on both sides today,” said head coach Chad Pearson. “No doubt, the most adversity we’ve dealt with this season, as a program, but both sides kept grinding. I’m impressed with the overall team attitude, given the adversity throughout it all, and I think it showed today.”

With the men opening competition at 10 a.m., junior Dylan Christopher was the first to cross the finish line for UNCG, running a 25:53.10. Christopher’s pace was good enough for a 10th-place finish among the field, while only three other teams had athletes outpace the Spartan runner.

Christopher earned Second Team All-SoCon honors, and was followed just a few places back by senior teammate Alex Roy, whose 26:09.32 took 15th overall in the senior’s final trip to the SoCon Cross Country Championship. Thomas Knepshield’s 26:36.59 was good enough for a 22nd-place finish, while freshman Matthew Bauer and junior Nicholas Thoma rounded out the Spartans’ point scorers.

Newcomers led the way for the Spartan women, with freshman Jenna Reiter providing a team best 18:54.08 5K, that earned the first-year SoCon All-Freshman honors. Crossing the finish line in 17th overall, Reiter came in just two spots ahead of junior transfer Jillian Felton, whose 18:59.95 was just a few seconds off her teammates’ pace. Senior Ariana Garcia added 27 points for the Spartans with a 19:34.65 in her final SoCon Cross Country Championships, while Malea Smith and Chandler McCaslin came in among UNCG’s top-five finishers.

“We had great individual performances on both sides, including freshman Jenna Reiter and transfer Jillian Felton for the women,” said Pearson. “We’re glad to have them join us this season. On the men’s side, Dylan Christopher earned his first all-conference selection and Alex Roy really performed for us today and just missed all-conference by one spot. These athletes provided some low-point performances today, which is always needed at championship races.”

As a team, the Spartan men and women scored 114 and 140 points respectively, with the men’s squad coming within a dozen points of third-place finishers ETSU (102).