By Marissa Masano
The Youngstown State University men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Bill Lennox Slippery Rock Invitational on Oct.7 at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in New Castle, Pennsylvania.
The women’s side competed in the 6K with eight athletes, five of which are repeat competitors for the Penguins after their performances at the Notre Dame Invitational.
The men competed in the 8K with seven athletes. All seven runners competed in the team’s last event in the Notre Dame Invitational. For assistant coach Eric Rupe, the men’s side has found recent success because of their consistency.
“We have an approach that we are going with [for] our training starting back in June of the summer until late October and we’re not going to steer one way or another from that approach,” Rupe said.
The men’s and women’s squads earned runner-up finishes at the invitational.
During the women’s 6K, the lady ‘Guins individually placed in the top 20, along with 23rd, and 26th to accumulate 69 team points. Slippery Rock University placed first with 41 team points.
Freshman Grace Rhoades was the top finisher on the women’s side, placing 11th with a time of 23:22. Junior Alayna Cuevas was the lady ‘Guins second-highest finisher, placing 13th with a time of 23:29.
Cuevas, freshman Kenzy Beckett, senior Aiamyia Dudley and senior Hannah Wagner all finished within seven seconds of each other. The ladies consecutively placed 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively. All top-five finishers crossed the finish line within a 14-second window.
On the men’s side, the team averaged a time of 26:09 and finished with 71 points. Slippery Rock took first place in the men’s 8K, finishing with 32 points.
During the invitational, three Penguins set personal bests in the 8K. Senior Riley Jackson, redshirt freshman Thomas Hunyadi and junior Beau Gorby all set personal bests.
The men’s side was led by Jackson who was the first to finish with a personal best of 25:32, snagging fifth place in the 8K. Hunyadi finished 17 seconds behind Jackson to secure ninth place. Hunyadi’s personal-best time was 25:49.
Junior Keegan Barnette crossed the line next for the Penguins with a season-best time of 26:11 to finish 13th. The last runner to finish in the top 20 for the Penguins was Gorby whose 13th-place time of 26:11 was a career best.
Both of Youngstown State’s cross country programs swept the Under Armour HLXC Runners of the Week awards following the Slippery Rock Invitational. Jackson, Rhoades and Hunyadi were all honored by the Horizon League.
Jackson was named the men’s runner of the week after being the Penguin’s top finisher, placing fifth out of 157 runners. This is the senior’s first time being named runner of the week.
Rhoades was named the women’s runner and freshman runner of the week after placing 11th out of 150 runners. The freshman also finished with a personal-best 6K time of 23:22.
After running a personal-best 8K at the Slippery Rock Invitational, Hunyadi was named men’s freshman of the week. The redshirt freshman finished ninth out of 157 runners and was the second Penguin to place.
Both teams’ next event will be at the Texas A&M Arturo Barrios Invitational on Oct. 13. The men will compete in the 8K, followed by the women’s 6K.
For stats, highlights and more, visit ysusports.com.