BOONE, N.C. — Redshirt-sophomore Jeff LaCoste was the top NCAA Div. I finisher, placing fourth overall, to lead the High Point University men’s cross country team to a sixth-place finish in the Blue Ridge Open on Friday afternoon in Boone, N.C.
“Jeff was great today and we had some other bright spots but overall, we struggled,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “We have trained well and that doesn’t go away in one day. I hope our guys are able to use this as motivation for the Big South Championship in two weeks. We’re going to give it a go.”
The Panthers totaled 168 points and were the top finishers among eight Big South member schools. VMI placed seventh, Coastal Carolina placed ninth and UNC Asheville placed 11th. Radford placed 15th, Winthrop took 18th, Longwood 19th and Gardner-Webb 23rd. Appalachian State won the meet on its home course.
LaCoste finished the 8K course in 24:37.06 and finished behind two unattached runners and one from Div. II Cedarville. One of the unattached runners was HPU’s Jacob Smith, who is a fifth-year senior and doesn’t have cross country eligibility. He placed third with a time of 24:36.06.
Sophomore Paddy Grandinali was HPU’s second finisher in 14th overall with a time of 25:12.86. Sophomore Benji Szalai placed 43rd with a time of 25:36.38 and junior Chris Colo placed 49th in 25:43.14. Sophomore Cody Seymour was HPU’s fifth finisher and placed 91st with a time of 26:25.67.
Freshman Chernet Sisay placed 103rd in 26:37.54 and sophomore Kevin Maguire placed 112th with a time of 26:45.14. Reece Ayers placed 139th and freshman Viny Todaro placed 143rd.
In the open race, freshman Mason Lenox placed eighth and sophomore Zach Hostetler placed 12th.
Senior Patrick Crawford sat out the meet with an injury.
High Point begins its championship season in two weeks when the team run in the Big South Championship on Nov. 2 at the Vista Links Golf Course in Buena Vista, Va. HPU placed second behind Liberty on the same course in the VMI Invitational on Sept. 21.