CULLOWHEE, N.C. — The High Point University men’s cross country team took second behind only the University of Florida at the Western Carolina Cross Country Invitational on Friday evening in Cullowhee, N.C. Senior Patrick Crawford finished second overall to lead the Panthers.
“I was very pleased with the way the guys ran,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “Patrick and Jeff LaCoste went with Florida’s top guys early and really engaged. The team has a good approach right now, a good air about them. I was very pleased with Paddy Grandinali and Reece Ayers. Vinny Todaro had a good first race for us. They are showing confidence.”
Florida scored 28 points to top the field. High Point was runner-up with 43 ahead of Furman (54), Western Carolina (121) and seven other teams. Big South foes UNC Asheville placed fifth, Winthrop placed seventh and Gardner-Webb took ninth. The Florida’s men’s cross country team was picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference preseason poll.
The Gators’ Mark Parrish won the 5K race in 14:50.06 and Crawford took second in 15:02.34. Two other Florida runners took third and fourth before LaCoste, a redshirt-sophomore for the Panthers, placed fifth in 15:19.90.
Sophomore Paddy Grandinali was HPU’s third finisher, seventh overall, in 15:24.50 and junior Reece Ayers placed ninth in 15:26.99. Freshman Vinny Todaro was High Point’s fifth finisher in 20th overall with a time of 15:51.81.
Four High Point runners finished together in 25th through 28th place led by junior Chris Colo in 25th. Senior John Yankello placed 26th, freshman Chernet Sisay placed 27th and sophomore Kevin Maguire placed 28th.
The Panthers are off for two weeks before competing in the Furman University Cross Country Classic on Sept. 14 in Greenville, S.C. The Panthers will run in the VMI Invitational on Sept. 21, a preview of the Big South Championship on the same course on Nov. 2.