Mason, OH - The Berea College men and women's cross country teams kicked off their season this past weekend at the Queens City Invitational.
Last year the meet was held on a Friday afternoon but to try and beat the heat the meet was moved to Saturday morning this year. The meet was also changed from a 5k to a 6k this year. The weather was still hot and humid but both teams fought through it and performed well.
The Men's team finished 6th of 12 competing teams beating out Wright State, UC Running Club, Centre, Asbury, Georgetown (KY) and Kentucky State. Ahead of them was the team winner and host, Cincinnati followed by Northern Kentucky, Indianapolis, Morehead State and Xavier (OH).
Leading the way was Jeremy Johnson with a 21st place finish covering the 6k course in 19:10. This was Johnson's first race back for the Mountaineers after an injury forced him to miss the 2014-15 season and he looked to pick up right where he left off running a great race. He was followed by freshman, Logan Mckenzie who finished 29th (19:29) followed closely by sophomore, Emmanuell Kemmei who was 38th (19:41). Both Logan and Emmanuell are middle distance specialists who showed their versatility this weekend. Rounding out the top five for the Mountaineers was freshman Kyle Young in 61st (20:23) and sophomore transfer Dylan Watkins in 74th (20:57).
Other finishers for the men's side included- Isaiah Dodson (20:59), Tanner Carson (21:03), Casey Monti (21:29), Zachary Raab (21:30), Luis Gonzalez (21:47), Nathan Smith (22:29), Caleb Flege (22:43), Dave Bell (22:57), Jerrod Arnold (23:03) and Richard Foley (23:08).
The women's race started at 9:30 AM and it was already a bit warmer then it was for the men's 9:00 AM start. Last year in the season opener the women struggled a bit but this year things were much different. The women's team ran a great race despite it being moved up to a 6k, finishing 10th of 14 teams. They were able to defeat the UC Running Club, Georgetown (KY), Kentucky State and St. Catharine.
Leading the way for the Mountaineers was freshman, Dove DeNigris finishing 61st and covering the 6k course in 24:52. Running second on the Berea team was Senior, Gabrielle Sawyer finishing 80th in 25:44. She was followed closely by Senior, Mercy Kershner who finished 87th in 26:05. Rounding out the top five for the Mountaineers was Junior, Gabriella Sabino in 88th (26:07) and Freshman Jenna Hughesin 98th (26:55).
"I really thought the meet went great for both the men and women, they stepped up and probably had the best season opener as a team in years." said assistant men and head women's coach Shawn Jakubowski. "On the men's side we are very solid 1-3 and we have some underclassmen who are going to progress throughout the year and really add to our depth. The women have a very good pack and once we add Erin Gonterman back into the lineup that will really add to their depth. All in all I couldn't be happier with the results from the weekend, it was a great day for both teams!"