CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Paced by freshman Rebecca Ward's career-best time, the Anderson women's cross country team finished 10th at the Queen City Invite, which was hosted by Queens University of Charlotte, Friday at McAlpine Creek Park.
The 39-team field included nine NCAA Division I schools, with the Trojans, who were ranked second in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) D-II Poll, holding out several runners and competing with a limited squad. AU finished behind just first-place James Madison, Milligan, College of Charleston, Flagler, North Georgia, Lenoir-Rhyne, Western Carolina, Liberty and Augusta, while outpacing Stetson (10th), Mercer (13th), Citadel (15th), Presbyterian (18th), Gardner-Webb (22nd), Coker (28th) and Lees-McRae (31st).
Ward crossed the finish line in 46th place in a personal-best time of 19:19 which was 41 seconds faster than her collegiate debut earlier this month at the Converse Kick-off Classic. Junior Olivia Rish covered the 5k course by carving out a 53rd-place finish in a time of 19:25, with junior Hannah Beach claiming 60th place in as time of 19:33. Fellow junior Olivia Evans trimmed more than 21 seconds off her time at Converse en route to notching a 62nd-place finish in a season-best time of 19:36.
Freshman Aubrey Stoddard finished 86th in a time of 20:13, with senior Kelsey Horner (115th) crossing the finish line in a time of 20:35, which was more than 14 seconds faster than her time at Converse. Sophomore Kamryn Osterbind notched a time of 20:45 and claimed 122nd place, while freshman Autumn Bladen finished 152nd in a time of 21:28 and junior Natalie Ardis rounded out the Black and Gold contingent in 198th in a time of 23:02.
"The girls ran well and stuck to the plan of going out together conservatively while running in a pack," said Anderson head coach Kevin Eagle. "The goal was to go out together and close hard the last mile with the heat playing a factor. Several runners really surprised us with how well they closed the last mile."
Following a two-week layoff, the Trojans will return to Charlotte for the Royals Cross Country Challenge on the McAlpine Creek Park course.
"Some teams beat us today because of strategy going in," added Eagle. "But we are in great shape moving towards our championship portion of the season."