Cross Country starts strong in openers

The men’s and women’s cross country units opened their seasons with high finishes as both units finish third in the respective runs during the JSU Struts Invitational.

The women’s 4k run featured 14 teams that included schools such Auburn, Troy and Jacksonville State while the men’s 15-team field includes several of the same name schools. With both teams finishing third, this stays consistent with one of head coach Jeremy Provence’s initial goals for the season of finishing consistently above fourth place.

“I was very pleased and thought we performed well,” Provence said. “ We beat some really good teams so i was very pleased.” Both teams will need consistent high placing finishes for the Atlantic Sun postseason runs set for later this year at the end of the seasons.

For the women, sophomore Phoebe Moon finishes fourth individually with a time of 14:57 followed by Kara Nix at eighth who came in at 15:04, Emma Knight at 13th who follows at 15:14, Lillian Humphries at 25th (16:03), Abby Nunnelly at 27th(16:08), Sharon Chepseba at 37th(16:27), Emilee Hudsmith at 41st(16:32) and Mandaline Thomas at 58th(17:07). The team collects with a group score of 75 over the weekend.

The men’s top runner was Peyton Ewoldt who finishes at 15:47 which places him 10th place as an individual. Connor Smith follows in at 12th(15:55), after that Brandon Lee at 17th(16:01), Bryce Keefover at 29th(16:17), James Hibbard at 35th(16:20), Foster Hudsmith at 37th(16:22), Jesse Lussier at 58th(16:45), Devin Berry at 62nd( 16:51), Christian Poag at 76th(17:14) and Hunter Davis at 97th(17:50). This performance lands the men’s team with an overall score of 92.

Now the focus shifts to the UNA Invitational. The invitational will be the first home invitational in the city of Florence since 2007. The excitement around it is felt within both groups and the community.

“ It’s been a really long time since UNA has hosted an event and they are excited,” Provence said. “You know, every other team gets to have that home contest and we are constantly on the road. So to be able to go to the course and run at McFarland where we train at least once or twice a week and to be able to showcase it. It is exciting.”

The men’s event will be an 8k run and the women’s event will be a 5k. The list of teams competing will include Alabama A&M(women), Blue Mountain(both), Christian Brothers(both), Cumberland University(both), Jacksonville State(both), Lane(both), Mississippi State(women), Trevecca Nazarene(women), Evansville(both), Memphis(both), West Florida(both), Wallace State(both) and both competing units for North Alabama.

Coach Provence hopes that the community will show up in big numbers to help cheer on the Lions.

The event kicks off at 8:30 on Saturday, Sept. 7 at McFarland Park