Bridgewater, VA- The Mary Baldwin University cross country teams opened their season at the Bridgewater XC Invite on Friday afternoon.
The women's team finished 4th overall out of 8 teams. Leading the way for the Squirrels was junior Josephina Reeder, placing 16th overall and running 1:20 faster than her time at the same event last season. Juniors Jaquelin Rosas (23rd) and Stephanie Barbaro (24th) came across the line next for MBU. Sophomore Elyse Levens was back in action after a season-ending injury last year and finished 31st overall. Rounding out the top 7 finishers were three first years: Tayla Jay-Bryner (35th), Kris Walsh (43rd) and Katelyn Soto (44th).
On the men's side, it was the first ever competition for MBU men's cross country. In his collegiate debut, Maxwell Klimczak finished 19th overall out of 47 finishers.
"The women were excited at the start and got out a little too fast, which catches up to you in this weather. Jo has gained a lot of confidence in the past year, and it showed in her performance today", said head coach, Heather Ely. "It was great to see the first years stepping up in their first collegiate race. They will only get stronger as the season progresses."
The men's team enters its inaugural year with club status and will enter the USA South Conference/NCAA in 2019. "It was especially exciting to watch the men start. We witnessed a little bit of MBU history being made, and that was really incredible. Max ran a nice, even race. He's been running strong in workouts, and we're looking forward to seeing him progress through the season", added Coach Ely.
The humidity and high temperatures played a significant role in the results, but that is often the case in early season cross country. The Mary Baldwin head coach was still in positive spirits given the excellent, early season results.
"Mother Nature was simply not our friend this afternoon. Temperatures and humidity are huge factors in racing. The heat was stifling, but they got through it. There were some disappointed faces afterward, but putting it into perspective, you just can't expect fast times in those conditions. Overall, for the first race of the year, it was a good showing for MBU cross country."
Next up for the Fighting Squirrels is the Golden Acorn Invitational on September 8th, a home meet hosted at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences campus. Races begin at 9:30 a.m.