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"We see a lot of the same teams and so when Betsy (Laski) and I were forming the schedule we thought it was time to expand our runners' experiences," said Tiger men's coach Todd McDaniel. "The Big River Running Early Bird meet really gave us a chance to see new NAIA schools as well as NCAA schools."
And they got a chance to see Georgetown. The Tigers face stiff competition inside their own conference with Shawnee State, currently ranked seventh nationally, and University of the Cumberlands (23rd). But, it is raters outside the conference that never get a chance to really gauge how strong Georgetown is.
"It's an opportunity for our athletes to race against new faces on a different course," Laski said. "But, it is also a chance for these coaches to see that, yes Shawnee and Cumberlands are good, but Georgetown is right there with them."
McDaniel's men's team finished eighth overall with just one NAIA school ahead of them - Central Methodist University. Freshman Cole Cisneros (Carmel, IN) made a statement in his first collegiate race. He led the Tigers in the 6k with a 26th finish in 20 minutes, 22 seconds. All five scoring runners finished in the top 80. Brandon Pulliam finished 40th in 20:50. Peyton Anderson was 60th in 21:36. Tyler Doolittle was 67th in 21:55 and Jon Renneker was 76th in 22:19.
"It was a great first race. I was pleased all the way around," McDaniel said. "Cole ran a great race and when some of those other guys get their strides going we can have a stronger one through five finish and be a solid team."
The women finished 11th overall with Central Methodist and William Woods being the only NAIA schools ahead of them. It was another freshman leading the way for the Tigers as Tayler Godar was 31st in 16:13. Rachel Ditto finished 45th in 16:35. Marissa Hale was 56th in 16:55. Elisha Overpeck was 59th in 16:58 and Mary Jefferson rounded out the five-scoring runners in 63rd in 17:18.
"We were all in the top 65 so that is a great start as a team," Laski said. "Elisha is healing up from a nagging injury from this past spring. Once she gets stronger, she and Tayler will be challenging each other which is really exciting for our team all the way around.
"We were short on depth this past year, but having a full field of runners beyond those that were in scoring positions was a nice change of pace and bodes well for the rest of the season."
Both teams are back in action Friday for a 5 pm race in Cincinnati.