Paced by junior Olivia Rish's 40th-place finish, the Anderson women's cross country team claimed 11th place at Queens University of Charlotte's Royals Challenge, Friday afternoon at McAlpine Creek Park.
Featuring 63 teams from across the Southeast, including eleven NCAA Division I squads and nine of the 12 schools currently in the South Atlantic Conference, Lee University claimed the team title, with Furman finishing second and Malone claiming third place. Davidson and Cedarville were fourth and fifth, respectively, while Wofford was sixth.
Queens, the top-ranked squad in the NCAA's Division II Southeast Region, finished seventh, while SCAD Atlanta, Radford and Wingate rounded out the 10 teams in front of the Black and Gold.
The Trojans outpaced South Carolina (14th), Lenoir-Rhyne (17th), Charlotte (20th), App State (23rd), Elon (25th), Catawba (26th), Mercer (28th), UNCW (30th), North Greenville (35th), Erskine (37th), Presbyterian (44th), Gardner-Webb (46th) and Limestone (48th).
"The women's team had a great start and got out really well," said Anderson head coach Kevin Eagle. "Even though we were in 19th place as a team at the halfway mark, I knew our girls ran within themselves and were going to move up in the second half of the race. They all closed hard and finished 11th as a team. Our 34-second gap from 1-5 needs to be tightened up a little, but I'm highly satisfied with how they performed. We know that having a tight pack will be huge when it comes championship time in two weeks. Our goals remain the same from the beginning of the year and we are in great shape with four weeks left until regionals."
Competing on the same course as at the Queen City Invite two weeks ago, but with temperatures 15 degrees cooler than the wilting heat of late September in the Carolinas, Rish traversed the 5K course in a time of 18:30.6. Freshman Rebecca Ward was not far behind – crossing the finish line in a time of 18:34.0. Senior Kelsey Horner claimed 90th place in a time of 18:59.3, while sophomore Merlea Sangl was 98th in a time of 19:04.5.
Junior Olivia Evans (19:09.6) and freshman Aubrey Stoddard (19:33.1) finished 110th and 159th, respectively, with sophomore Kamryn Osterbind claiming 258th in a time of 20:30.6. Freshman Autumn Bladen covered the distance in a time of 21:10.0 and finished 312th, with junior Natalie Ardis crossing the finish line in 349th place in a time of 21:39.6.
Classmate Lydia Gambrel was 369th in a time of 22:00.0, while senior Emily Olson (22:13.7) claimed 385th place. Freshman Brianna Quartararo finished 460th in a time of 24:06.0 and freshman Lydia Johnson was 520th among the 541 runners who finished the course in a time of 28:15.2.
"We had several PRs across the board for the men's and women's teams, which is encouraging as we get closer to our championship season. While other teams are slowing down, we are just getting started," added Eagle.
Following a two-week layoff, Anderson will get back in action on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the South Atlantic Conference Championships in Wingate, N.C.