• HPU placed ahead of regionally-ranked programs William & Mary (No. 5), Duke (No. 8) and Liberty (No. 10)
• Redshirt junior Jeff LaCoste paced the Panthers with a 17th-place finish (24:34.13)
• After finishing 10th at the event in 2013, HPU improved four spots with its sixth-place finish Friday
EARLYSVILLE, Va. – The High Point University men’s cross country team soared past a number of regionally-ranked teams to grab a sixth-place finish at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational Friday.
The program’s strong finish pushed HPU – ranked No. 9 in the USTFCCA Southeast Region – in front of regionally-ranked programs William & Mary (No. 5), Duke (No. 8), Liberty (No. 10), Wake Forest (No. 13) and Clemson (No. 14).
The No. 13 team in the country – host Virginia – won the meet with 47 points. The Wahoos were trailed by Furman (51) and No. 12 Iona (54). Following Auburn (138) and Arizona (147), HPU totaled 165 points to earn the sixth-place finish.
Liberty (190), William & Mary (212) and Wake Forest (228) took spots seven through nine, while Duke (268, No. 10), Bucknell (282, No. 11) and Clemson (300, No. 12) rounded out the field.
“There are some of the top runners in the country here, so you get a good gauge of where you stand in a big meet and maybe where you should be,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “I like that we’re seeing a carry over from our day-to-day training. It’s very enjoyable to watch what we’re trying to accomplish on a daily basis play out in a big meet.”
For the second time in as many meets in 2014, redshirt junior Jeff LaCoste earned the top spot in the Panther pack. The Amherst, N.H., native placed 17th in a time of 24:34.13. Freshman James Quattlebaum followed up his top-10 finish at the GWU Invite with a 21st-place showing (24:41.55) against a much stronger field in Virginia.
“We expect Jeff to be up there,” Esposito said. “I like his maturity up front. James Quattlebaum has been a huge plus for us. James is a talent that won everything he ever ran in high school in South Carolina, and he’s up near the front and believes that’s where he’s supposed to be in college.”
Chris Colo continued his impressive senior campaign with a 30th-place finish. The Waxhaw, N.C., native registered a personal-best 8k time of 24:53.66. Junior Paddy Grandinali was 47th in 25:17.07, while senior Reece Ayers placed 52nd in 25:25.66.
“All the way through I thought we were pretty solid,” Esposito added. “Reece Ayers has been very steady for us, which is what we needed from our No. 5 man today. Paddy kept grinding – it wasn’t his best day, but he did what he needed to get done. And Chris Colo continued his senior year resurgence at1 the meet.”
Sophomores Chernet Sisay (26:00.38, 68th) and Mason Lenox (26:09.36, 76th) and freshman Ryan Udvadia (26:10.45, 77th) rounded out the HPU contingent.
The split-squad weekend for HPU continues with the UNCG Spartan Invitational today at 5 p.m. In Kernersville, N.C. The Panthers then return to action in three weeks at the Blue Ridge Open Oct. 17 in Boone, N.C.