• HPU – ranked 10th in the Southeast region – won the event crown while finishing comfortably in front of No. 9 Wake Forest
• The Panthers claimed five of the top-8 spots in the event
• Sophomore Ryan Udvadia (3rd, 18:45) and junior Vinny Todaro (4th, 18:49) led the way for HPU
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s cross country team started off the 2015 season in impressive fashion Friday, winning the Elon Invitational behind a strong performance from its top-5 runners.
HPU took five of the top-8 spots in the race en route to the event crown.
The Panthers – ranked 10th in the USTFCCCA Southeast Regional poll – finished comfortably ahead of the region’s No. 9 team Wake Forest. HPU posted 28 points to win the 6K meet while the Demon Deacons placed second with 46. Host Elon finished third (56) while UNCG rounded out the pack in fourth (100).
“I’m pleased with this season opening performance,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “The goal was to win the meet and we did that. We grouped up well. We had a little splintering around the 4K mark but we closed well. It was a very positive day.”
Sophomore Ryan Udvadia led the way for the Panthers with a third-place finish. The 2014 Big South all-conference selection crossed the finish line in 18:45 to post his career best cross country finish (by position).
Junior Vinny Todaro – the 2015 Big South outdoor 1500m champion – took fourth just four seconds behind Udvadia (18:49). Todaro also posted his best cross country finish by position in an HPU uniform.
Freshman Alejandro Torres shined in his HPU debut, placing sixth in a strong time of 18:55. He was followed closely by redshirt-senior Jeff LaCoste, who placed seventh in 18:57.
Junior Chernet Sisay rounded out HPU’s top-5 by placing eighth – a personal-best finish – in a time of 19:01.
Senior Cody Seymour finished 17th in 19:30 while freshman Bryan Gonzalez rounded out the Panther pack in 28th (20:35).
High Point senior Paddy Grandinali – a 2014 Big South all-conference selection – sat out Friday’s race but will be in action at HPU’s next meet.
HPU now heads into a critical three weeks of preparation before racing at the region’s premier Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Sept. 26. The event features three nationally-ranked teams – No. 9 Virginia, No. 17 Furman and No. 23 Eastern Kentucky – as well as seven teams ranked in regions across the country.