The High Point University men’s cross county team placed 17th in the NCAA Southeast Regional to close out the 2012 season on Friday in Charlotte, N.C. The team was led by sophomore Jeff LaCoste, who placed 68th.
“We aren’t where we wanted to be this season, but our program is going in the right direction,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “Jeff ran well and I liked the way our team raced together. We have almost all the pieces coming back for next fall so we’re looking forward to keeping at it in training, recruiting and building the program.”
LaCoste was very agressive to begin the race, running among the top 30 in the opening miles before settling back with his teammates. Senior Jacob Smith was also out in the top 40. Late in the race, LaCoste, Smith, junior Patrick Crawford, sophomore Reece Ayers and freshman Benji Szalai were all together.
LaCoste closed well to place 68th in a time of 31:43.97. Crawford was High Point’s next finisher in 71st with a time of 31:46.24 and Smith finished his collegiate cross country career in 81st with a time of 31:59.83.
Szalai was High Point’s fourth finisher, placing 101st with a time of 32:27.63, followed by Ayers in 111th in 32:36.31 to round out the Panthers’ scorers. Freshman Paddy Grandinali placed 137th in 33:08.50 and sophomore Chris Colo was right behind in 138th with a time of 33:10.61.
Virginia won the race with 64 points, finishing ahead of Eastern Kentucky (75 points). EKU’s Soufiane Bouchikhi was the individual winner. Liberty was the top Big South team in seventh place, followed by High Point in 17th and VMI in 20th.
With the cross country season over, High Point begins the indoor track & field season with a pair of meets on Nov. 30-Dec. 1. HPU will send athletes to the Liberty Kickoff Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lynchburg, Va., as well as the JDL Kickoff Classic in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Dec. 1.