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"We've had an up and down season, which can happen when you are young and dealing with injuries," said men's coach Todd McDaniel. "We ran solid Saturday, but it just wasn't good enough this time around."
Both teams are fairly young and then the veteran runners have been hampered with injuries most of the season. However, both teams have shown great progress through the season and even dominated on a very tough course in unusual heat at the late season race hosted by Kentucky State University. The women's team posted an eye-popping perfect score, while the men's was an impressive win as well with a near perfect score.
At Rio, Tayler Godar led the women and finished just outside the at-large bids to qualify for the national meet in Vancouver, Wash. The freshman ran the 5k in 19 minutes 51 seconds. Rachel Ditto's 20:29 was second best for the Tigers, while Elisha Overpeck ran a 20:44. This is the first year the Overpeck will not be competing in Vancouver. The junior has been slowed by an injury she sustained during track season.
"It has been a tough cross country season for Elisha," said women's coach Betsy Laski. "To see her run the times she runs and know the frustration when she wants to go harder or faster.
"But, I'm pleased with her progress and hopefully this injury will be cleared up by the time this track season rolls around. Then we keep her healthy and Elisha and Tayler will be a next fall in cross country."
Mary Jefferson ran a 21:07 and Mary Kate Dowdy a 21:46 to round out the top five GC women's scorers, all of which were in the top 32 finishers. Senior Finnja Ramcke is another runner that usually helps the team score well, but a back injury has kept her lower in the finishes than usual.
"Last year at this time, we were lucky to have five runners," Laski said. "This year our depth was a large part of our strength. It is hard when runners such as Finnja have to battle injuries. Todd and I both understand that as runners ourselves. I think that helps as we coach these runners."
McDaniel dealt with injuries and illnesses from his team all season. Senior Tyler Doolittle missed most of the season due to injury. Sophomore Kyle Wiedemer ran, but never really was himself all season. Junior Tanner Alexander took a redshirt season. Junior Brandon Pulliam battled illness off-and-on for about the past month.
"We never want to give excuses," McDaniel said. "We have plenty of really great runners and the ability to achieve more, but I was never displeased with the effort I got at any competition or practice this season.
"Sometimes you are going to have these years, it is how we grew and learned from it that will make the difference come this next fall."
Freshman Cole Cisneros continued his strong rookie campaign with a finish that had him just two spots out of the at-large bids. He finished the MSC meet in 26:45.8 - one minute and 11 seconds better than his KSU winning time. This time also puts him in the Top 5 all-time for race time at Georgetown College dating back to 1985. Pulliam's 26:09 earlier this season gives McDaniel two runners that erased and set new records for the Tigers. Pulliam sits at No. 2, while Cisneros is No. 5.
Sam Heaton finished in 27:37. Anderson ran a 28:39. Jon Renneker was right on his heels in 28:41. Rounding out the top five was Joseph Richey in 28:57. All the scorers finished in the top 40 for the men's team.