Tennessee Wesleyan's cross country teams were in action on Saturday, opening up the fall season with strong performances at Montreat College's Hyder-McMahill Invitational. The women brought home the team title thanks to strong performances from Junior Hannah Rhodes (2nd overall) and Freshman Mysteree Bottoroff (3rd overall), while the men settled for third place finish behind strong runs from Junior Javier Garcia (3rd overall) and Senior Luis Vargas (8th overall).
On the women's side, the Bulldogs were without All-American Senior Leah Chance who is dealing with some health issues, but Rhodes led a strong pack of Bulldogs that dominated the competition. "Hannah and Mysteree really set the tone today with strong runs on a tough, slow course," said Coach Herbert. "With Leah out, we really needed strong runs from our top two, and they delivered."
Junior Karlie Yinger was 6th overall, followed closely by Freshman Rachel Gallison (8th overall) and Junior Sierra Knighten (10th overall). Freshman Rosa Cisneros (12th overall) and Junior Chloe Nance (17th overall) rounded out the varsity pack for the Bulldogs.
"I thought Karlie and Rachel ran very well today. They executed the race plan perfectly, they ran tough on the hilly sections, and they finished the race well," explained Coach Herbert. "Sierra ran pretty well also, but Rosa struggled a little. She's dealing with an ankle injury, but we'll get her healed up and ready to go. Chloe ran an excellent race, while (Freshman) Bailey (Condone) and (Senior) Kelsey (Marshall) rounded out the competitors for the ladies with strong runs, finishing 18th and 31st respectively.
On the men's side, Garcia and Vargas led a short-handed group of Bulldogs who traveled only 9 of 20 athletes. "Unfortunately right now we are a little short-handed as we are without a large group of athletes for various reasons," explained Coach Herbert. "I anticipate that we'll be quite a bit stronger once we get to run the full roster." Freshman TJ Tupps followed Garcia and Vargas, finishing third for the Bulldogs and 15th overall. Tupps was followed closely by Sophomore Bryce Choate who finished 17th overall. "Strong runs from TJ and Bryce to start the year, but I think we can improve in the middle of the race. TJ has shown more in practice, and Bryce is just starting to get healthy, so we've got a long way to go to get where we need to be," said Coach Herbert.
Sophomore Will Vineyard rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs, finishing 25th overall. Freshman Mikey Killingsworth was next across the line in 29th place, before fellow freshman Louis Sapp and Micah Brown closed out the day with 48th and 50th place finishes respectively.
The Bulldogs compete next on Saturday September 17th at Berea College.