CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Over 40 teams and nearly 1,000 runners competed at the fourth annual Charlotte Cross Country Invitational on Friday afternoon at McAlpine Park. Led by Amanda Goetschius, the 49ers women finished fourth overall, while the men's team placed seventh behind a top finish from junior Daweet Dagnachew.
"I think it was a huge success," head coach Ed Schlichter said of the meet. This year's event was nearly double in size compared to last year's meet, which made for crowded races and added the need for "B" races for both genders. "There were a lot of teams, and it was really packed on the start line but it went well. I was really excited to see how the course spread out and smoothed out, and it was very safe."
Goetschius highlighted the day for Charlotte with a third place overall finish on the women's side, breaking 17 minutes with a 16:57.02 5K time. She bested her previous PR time by two seconds and finished just behind meet champion Joan Tangwar of USC Upstate and Nicole Irving of Wake Forest, who turned in times of 16:53 and 16:54, respectively.
Junior Hana Sutchar was the #2 Charlotte finisher, coming in 35th overall in a time of 18:20.30. Rookies Jenna Chrstensen and Kristen Stout were right on her heels, crossing the line at 36th and 37th, respectively, with times of 18:20.44 and 18:21.05.
"We're really strong, and really deep," Schlichter said, impressed by the ability of the women to hang together to snag spots as top scorers. "When we get to a meet like regionals, I think we can be an even better team."
Junior Maria Ruiz, in her second race of the season, finishing 41st in 18:25.46. Rounding out the top seven scorers were freshman Jen Molke (63rd in 18:47) and consistent competitor Ashley Edwards (67th in 18:51).
Virginia Tech was the team champion on the women's side with 84 points, while Furman was the runner-up with 127. Charlotte (152) finished just three points shy of third-place team Wake Forest (149), the third place team.
Dagnachew paced the 49ers men's squad with a 27th place finish in a time of 25:17.47. Sophomore Joseph Cotto stepped up in the #2 spot for the Niners, coming in 51st with a 25:59 time in the 8K event. Junior Cody Hodgins was 53rd in 26:01 while sophomore Eleazar Garcia was 59th (26:13).
"On the guys' side, if our top five can move up a little bit more, we're going to beat a lot more teams," Schlichter said. "This was the guys' first big meet of the year, so we've not panicking."
Zach Edwards of Liberty was the men's individual champion, coming in at 24:08.65 to help his squad to a second place team finish. Virginia Tech was the men's team champion with only 35 points.
"We've got six weeks of training until regionals, and a month until conference, so we have to be doing work, and treat each day like it's important."
The 49ers are off until October 15th, when they travel to Terre Haute, Ind. for NCAA Pre-Nationals.