From Staff Reports
MORROW The Clayton State University men's and women's cross country opened their seasons Saturday at the Mercer Invitational and the Alabama-Huntsville Invitational and both squads brought home impressive finishes in their season openers.
The men's team had the top finish, placing third overall at the Mercer meet and first among non-NCAA Division I schools, besting the likes of NCAA South Region foes West Georgia University and Valdosta State University. Former Peach Belt Conference rival Kennesaw State University, now competing at the D-I level, won the meet with 23 points, followed by Georgia Tech (44). Clayton State finished third (110).
In Huntsville, the Lady Lakers placed sixth in a competitive field of 15 teams.
Clayton State finished with 148 points. Alabama-Huntsville won with 42 points, followed by the University of West Florida (69) points and Carson-Newman (122) rounding out the top three. The University of North Alabama finished fourth, followed by Division I Jacksonville State University in fifth, four points ahead of the Lady Lakers.
Tough course conditions in the men's 5K race at Mercer's Atlanta campus produced some slow times with the winner barely breaking 17 minutes in the race. The meet featured 17 teams, including four NCAA Division I schools.
"All the times were slow, but the course was tight and had a tough hill that you had to climb twice," said Clayton State assistant coach Hugh Toro. "We ran well, especially for the first meet, we packed it in well at the top. Peter (Gajda) tweaked his ankle midway thru the race and had to take it easy or we would have been closer to (Georgia) Tech."
Clayton State had two runners in the top 10 with Josh Myers and Manny Aguilar leading the way.
Myers placed seventh with a time of 17:15, followed by Aguilar in ninth with a time of 17:22.