Photo courtesy of goxavier.com | Sophomore Anna Kostarellis paced the women’s side of the Xavier cross country team, placing third with a time of 17:47:80 in the Musketeers’ season-opening race at the Queen City Invitational hosted at NKU.
The Xavier cross country team began its season Saturday with a third-place finish for both the men’s and women’s sides at the Queen City Invitational, hosted by Northern Kentucky University in nearby Highland Heights, Ky.
On the women’s side, the team was led by sophomore Anna Kostarellis, who placed third, logging a time of 17:47:80.
The Musketeers finished with five runners in the top 20, including Maya Hannagan, a freshman from Windsor, Ontario, who finished 18th in her first-ever collegiate race.
On the men’s side, senior Grayson Jenkins led the team to a quality first run — defeating the University of Cincinnati for the first time in school history — with a time of 15:39:60.
Jenkins was followed closely behind by junior Jack Haust and freshman Thomas Gardiner.
Head coach Ryan Orner, now entering his seventh season with the Musketeers, believes that the team can and will compete on both the men’s and the women’s sides.
“We have high expectations for our team, and we aim to finish at least in the top five in the Big East Conference for both the men’s and women’s team,” he said.
Orner pointed out runners who have stood out so far in the season on the men’s side, mentioning both Jenkins and Gardiner.
They have both turned in strong times so far and show that talent can be found in both veterans and newcomers across the roster.
On the women’s side, the two standouts for the team have been Kostarellis and sophomore Jenna Clayworth.
“These women (Kostarellis and Clayworth) are going to hopefully help lead us to another strong finish in the Big East this year, where we aim to top last year’s fifth-place finish in the conference championship,” Orner said.
Xavier has a tough schedule ahead of it in its two most immediate races, both of which are far from home.
The Musketeers prepare to run at events like the National Catholic Invitational at the University of Notre Dame as well as the Commodore Classic, hosted by Vanderbilt University.
Even with the stiff competition in the near future, Orner is confident that his team will perform well.
He noted that the runners on the team have been working hard not only during the school year but also on their own time throughout the summer months in preparation for the season.
The cross country team will look to build off its strong start in the Queen City Invitational during its next event at the National Catholic Invitational, which is scheduled to take place on Sept. 14 in South Bend, Ind.
By: Evan Gottschalk | Guest Writer