Charlotte, N.C.- The Charlotte 49ers men’s and women’s cross country teams hosted the eighth annual Charlotte Invitational at McAlpine Creek Park on Saturday morning. With a field of 30 women’s squads and 27 men’s squads the Niners place in the top three on both sides as a team.
The 49ers women’s team raced to an impressive runner-up finish behind SEC powerhouse Mississippi State by three points. Mississippi State came into Saturday’s invitational ranked ninth in the South region. Graduate student Kim Spano led the way for the Niners trekking the 6K course in 21:35 for a fourth overall finish. Redshirt senior Maraya Slatter stayed on Spano’s hip for most of the race finishing the course in 21:38 for a sixth place finish. Sophomore Morgan Richards picked up a top ten finish crossing the line five seconds after Slatter for an eighth place finish. Junior Jen Molke and sophomore newcomer Carolina Casin-Silva picked up top 20 finishes placing 16th and 18th respectively. Freshman newcomer Aleisha Murrell and junior Rachel Miller rounded out the scoring for the 49ers; both finishing in the top 30.
“I was extremely proud of the women today they fought a tough battle with a great Mississippi State team,” said Coach Ed Schlichter. “We executed a solid strategy today. This was most of our girl's first race of the season and to get personal bests like we did today we can't complain much.”
The women’s squad got the best of cross-town rival Davidson and nationally ranked Florida State, competing without some of their top runners, dropped the squads to a fourth and fifth place finish respectively.
The 49ers men’s team picked up a third place finish behind Mississippi State and North Florida. Junior Zach Greth paced the Niners with a fifth place overall finish running the 8K course in 25:28. Redshirt senior Ross Roberson finished just outside the top 10 finishing the course in 25:40 and placing 11th. Junior Joseph Cotto placed inside the top 20 with an eighteenth place finish. Sophomore Ben Sterett picked up a 22nd place finish. “Zach (Greth) and Ross (Roberson) did a great job leading the way and Joseph had a nice second half of the race. We show a lot of promise within the men's group but we've got to keep working. Today was more of a rust buster for our guys than anything else.”
The women’s team swept the green 6K race taking four of the top five scores. Kristen Stout took first place, followed by Taylor Carcella, Ashleigh Handchen and Nicole Morgan placing third-fifth. Junior Tianna McHenry finished the course with a top 10 finish. Tiffany Lang, Lauren Pollard and Chelsea Matson ran unattached for the women’s squad placing in the top 15 but scores did not count against team totals. “Even in the green race the women really showed great poise. Proud of the total team effort, they are such a fun group to work with.”
“Great weather and great performances all around, today was pretty darn good and I'm so proud of these kids,” said Coach Ed Schlichter on the overall performance of his squads. Mississippi State took home the overall top team finish for both men’s and women’s.
The 49ers take a week off before heading to Bethlehem, Pa. for the Paul Short Run hosted by Lehigh University, October 5th.