UNA cross-country teams finish second at D-II Challenge

The men’s and women’s cross-country teams both finished second at the D-II Challenge in Clinton, Mississippi Oct. 25.

The men scored 71 in the 8K, and the women finished with a 71 in the 5K.

The scores are calculated by how the top five runners for each team finish the race.

“I’m really proud of our effort on both sides because we finished strong,” said coach Scott Trimble. “This was a prelude to our conference meet, so this was important for us.”

Freshman Justin Watson led the men’s team with a time of 26:40 placing 10th, and fellow freshman Tate Carden finished right behind at 26:41.

“I’ve said all year long how impressed I have been with our freshmen on this team,” Trimble said. “The men’s side ran well and is starting to come together.”

Sophomore Adam Benefield finished 14th (26:58) and junior Clady Oden (27:24) placed 20th to round out the top 20 participants.

“The seniors may not be the fastest on the team but we wouldn’t be where were at without their leadership,” Trimble said.

Junior Olivia Brady led the women’s team, with a 19:14 time, placing eighth overall. Her time was a personal best.

“I spent the whole race thinking if I could just get by someone one at a time, I’d be fine,” Brady said. “We all finished strong.”

Five UNA runners placed in the top 20 — following Brady were freshmen Cassi Still at 14th (19:37), Sabrina Hudgins at 16th (19:41), Alexandra Pidcock at 17th (19:42) and Laura Bennett at 20th (19:58).

“They’ve been doing incredible all year,” Brady said. “Their performance speaks so well of the freshmen.”

Brady said last weekend was a confidence boost for the whole team.

“The fact we finished second speaks volumes of how well we’re doing right now,” she said.

The women’s side ended with nine personal records, including Brady’s.

“I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I haven’t seen this many personal records ever,” Trimble said. “It’s a tribute to how hard they have been working.”

The Lions are preparing for the Nov. 8 Gulf South Conference Championships in Birmingham.

“I knew we had a chance to be good but not this early,” Trimble said. “Our coaches are doing a great job of getting our runners ready for each race.”