App State cross country knocks off Marshall at Blue Ridge Open

App+State+head+cross+country+coach+Michael+Curcio+coaches+the+women%27s+team+at+the+Mountains+to+Sea+Open+Oct.+1.+The+men%27s+and+women%27s+teams+defeated+Marshall+in+the+Blue+Ridge+Open+at+the+Don+Kennedy+Trails+in+Boone+Oct.+16.+

Andy McLean

App State head cross country coach Michael Curcio coaches the women’s team at the Mountains to Sea Open Oct. 1. The men’s and women’s teams defeated Marshall in the Blue Ridge Open at the Don Kennedy Trails in Boone Oct. 16.

Ben Brady, Reporter

App State cross country earned a resounding victory at the Blue Ridge Open Friday. In a dual meet with Marshall, the Mountaineers finished with 15 points, compared to 49 for the Thundering Herd. 

“What means a lot to us is to see our athletes go out there and execute the way we planned to,” said men’s and women’s head coach Michael Curico. “It’s very satisfying to walk away from a meet seeing as many athletes hit their personal best time as we did today.”

Junior Izzy Evely was among those who achieved a personal record time at the event, as she led the women’s 5K with a time of 17:29.81. 

App State claimed the top six spots in the race, with sophomore Sarah Sandreuter finishing close behind with a 17:30.34 time, and freshman Faith Younts crossing third with a PR time of 17:45.00. Rounding out the top five, graduate student Lisha Van Onselen placed fourth in 17:52.32, and sophomore Lila Peters finished with a time of 17:56.52.

I was really happy to be back to where I know I can be, and especially to have my teammate right behind me to help push me through it at the end,” said Evely. “Our coach always says, ‘if you’re not touching your teammate, you’re not doing your job.’ Sarah (Sandreuter) helped me immensely today to kick it in.” 

Three other Mountaineers earned top-10 and personal best finishes, with sophomore Madison Christy placing sixth at 18:21.31, sophomore Taylor Houston earning eighth with a time of 18:31.66 and freshman Jasmine Donohue getting ninth in 18:35.43.

Senior Issac Benz led the Mountaineers in the men’s 8K with a time of 25:57.00. Junior Ryan Brown was second in 26:09.62, and freshman Dwayne Lillie placed third with a time of 26:10.24. Senior Michael Flanagan recorded a fourth place finish in 26:28.88 and senior Ben Cignarale was right behind in fifth with a time of 26:33.81. 

“Finishing in first felt great,” said Benz. “We had a couple people competing for a conference spot today, but most of us were just getting our exercise in.” 

The Mountaineers filled the rest of the top 10, with Ethan Barber placing seventh in 26:52.25, Ben Datte earning ninth in 27:03.23 and Gable Dershem coming in 10th in 27:15.44.

Following their dominance against Marshall, the team looks to carry their momentum into the Sun Belt Conference championship meet on Oct. 31. Curico said that his team knows what it will take to win.

Those other teams might have a little more talent up front, but we know we have the depth,” said Curico. “The ladies have a lot of positive momentum, workouts are going well and everything is starting to click. For the guys, they came out moderate today, but eventually picked it up, which is reflective in their times.”

App State cross country will look to take home the Sun Belt title at the conference meet in Mobile, Alabama, on Oct. 31. The women’s 5K is set for a 10 a.m. start, and the men’s 8K will begin at 11 a.m.