Cross country continues their title defense at Chile Pepper Festival

The Golden Hurricane Cross Country team competed in their second meet of the season this past Saturday at the Chile Pepper Festival.
The men finished second in the field of fourteen while the women finished third out of seventeen schools.

Marc Scott led the way for Tulsa, taking the men’s invitational 8K title with a time of 23:30.90. Ben Preisner followed with a 17th place finish, and the Hurricane rounded out the scoring with Luke Traynor (21st), Isaac Dobos (23rd) and Jay Ort (32nd) for a total of 60 points in the race 36 points behind first place Arkansas.

Rachel Baptista paced the women’s side finishing in 23rd place overall in the 5k with a time of 17:06.86. Clara Langley (25th), Stacie Taylor (35th), Nicole Lee (39th) and Alyssa Bolliger (48th) finished off the scoring, giving the Golden Hurricane 113 points, only behind Arkansas and Abilene Christian.

This was the second race of the season for Tulsa, after they competed in the Oklahoma State Duels last month to open up their season.

The biggest purpose of this meet is to get in some practice, and to figure out where the team stands before the rest of the season kicks in.

In their sophomore season in the American Athletic Conference, both the men and women’s side are looking to defend their title as conference Champions in 2014.

That made it five straight titles on the men’s side and two in a row for the women, dating back to Tulsa’s Conference USA days.

The Golden Hurricane are coming in with high expectations for this season, with the men and women’s teams ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Midwest Region according to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The biggest changes on the men’s side are the change in the experience level of the team from last year.

The Golden Hurricane returned only two scoring runners from last (Marc Scott and Ben Preisner), and feature eight new runners—freshman and transfer students alike.

The women on the other hand returned five runners with more than two years of experience at the college level and three scorers from last season.

Head Coach Steve Gulley, who is starting his 16th season at Tulsa, said at the beginning of the season; “I think we have more experience on the women’s side, at conference and regional meets, than we do on the men’s side. That’s very unusual.”

“We just don’t have guys that have been around. The ladies want to win their third championship in a row, and it would be the sixth if the guys can do it. Those are big goals. They take it very seriously here.”

The next step in defending their titles is the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 16, which is one of the biggest meets in the nation. After that, the next event will be the American Conference Championships on Oct. 31 in North Carolina.

Post Author: tucollegian

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