Notre Dame neutered: SLU wins men’s cross country title

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The men’s and women’s cross country teams showcased their promising potential for the season at the National Catholic Championship on Sept. 16 at the University of Notre Dame. The men captured the title for the first time in school history and the women earned a respectable fourth place finish.

Six SLU runners finished in the top 25. Sophomore Matt Prest finished fourth overall with a time of 25:24.2 and fellow sophomore Manuel De Backer followed him in fifth place with a time of 25:25.9. Sophomore Dorrian Gordon slid into 10th place at 25:48.1. Sophomore Lance Mueller earned 15th place (25:56) and senior Neal Fitzpatrick came in at 18th place (26:03.3). Sophomore Wes Schoenthal rounded out the Billikens’ impressive performance with a time of 26:13.2 to earn a 24th place finish. Other Billiken runners were freshman Aaron Dugan, junior Hiob Gebisso and sophomore Sean Conlin.

The men smoked the rest of the competition with a total of 52 points, 18 points below Notre Dame. This was the first year since 2000 that the Fighting Irish did not take home the title.

Head coach Jon Bell was very pleased about his team’s efforts. “The men’s performance tonight was spectacular,” Bell said. “Any time you beat a program as established as Notre Dame, you know you are doing something right. All the men executed their race places just like we talked about leading into the race.”

On the women’s side, 4 runners placed in the top 25 to give the women 4th place out of 11 teams. Sophomore Anna Schmitz led the Billiken pack with a 14th place finish (18:23.5), and sophomore Amy Kieliszewski followed her up in 16th place (18:31.1). Sophomore Courtney Pfanstiel and junior Courtney Link earned 21st and 22nd place with times of 18:36.4 and 18:38.1, respectively. Other runners included freshman Hannah Pierson, junior Sophie Adams, sophomore Elise Marker and freshman Megan Kress.

Bell commented on the promise the women’s team showed and what’s next for both squads. “The women put together a solid effort this evening,” he said. “For both teams, we have some areas we need to improve, but I am confident this group will make the adjustments and continue to improve in the coming weeks. The important thing for us now is to continue with our plan and prepare for the A-10 Championships.”

Upon his impressive performance at Notre Dame, Prest was named A-10 co-Performer of the Week. He earned A-10 Rookie of the Week in last year’s outdoor track and field season.

The Billikens will now have a short break and do not return to competition until Oct. 14, when they travel to Peoria, Ill. for the Bradley Pink Classic, which will be the last regular season competition in which they will be competing. The Atlantic 10 Conference Championships begin on Oct. 29 in Richmond, Va.