The John Carroll men’s and women’s cross country teams showed their mettle over the weekend at the Leeber Invitational at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, with four runners recording finishes in the top 25 for the day.
Ashley Aberl (20:18.51) and Kelly Grieve (20:32.32) were the top two finishers for the women’s team, placing 16th and 23rd respectively. On the men’s side, Jake Smith (27:43.99) and Pat Burns (28:15.49) were the top Blue Streak runners, placing 13th and 22nd, respectively.
“I think we are starting the season well as a team,” Aberl said following the meet. “We need to continue to work on our pack mentality, but we are starting to put things together.”
That pack mentality showed in the results, as the John Carroll runners finished the race in close proximity. All five of the top women’s runners for JCU finished within a minute and a half of each other. On the men’s side, the Blue Streak third, fourth, and fifth finishers crossed the line together, as senior Bob Seeholzer (43rd in 30:50.29) finished just behind teammates Nick Wojtasik (41st in 30:33.12) and Brian Bayer (42nd in 30:37.94).
“The pack mentality will take us far,” head coach Dara Ford said, “It’s good to see things coming together.”
JCU was the only Division III school competing in the eight-team invitational that was otherwise comprised of Division I and II schools, and had a good showing against a field of runners on athletic scholarships.
The women’s team finished fifth overall, while the men’s team placed sixth.
“It’s nice running in these big meets against bigger schools,” Aberl said. “It gives us a taste of the tougher competition that pushes us to get better.”
Rounding out the top finishers for the women’s team were Anna Busta (21:12.61), Taylor Whisler (21:12.61) and Megan Lutz (21:43.66), who finished 29th, 30th, and 36th, respectively.