• Sophomore Kelly Hayes led HPU with a 51st place finish (18:37.90)
• Junior Natalia Ocasio (18:37.90) and senior Katie Farina (18:50.80) each posted 5k collegiate best times
• High Point returns to action next Saturday (Oct. 3) at the Big South preview meet
EARLYSVILLE, Va. – The High Point University women’s cross country team earned an 11th-place finish at the elite Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Saturday.
No. 17 Virginia won its home meet with 30 points. No. 31 Mississippi State finished second with 83 points, followed by Auburn (106). HPU posted 284 points and placed ahead of Liberty, Hofstra, Morehead State and Hofstra. Big South foe Coastal Carolina placed seventh (195 points).
“It was disappointing to finish behind Coastal in our first head-to-head race, but the important thing is that we gained a lot of working information regarding how we need to approach the conference meet on Oct. 31,” head coach Jenna Wrieden said. “We need to take that information and put it to good use over the next five weeks of preparation.”
Sophomore Kelly Hayes led HPU for the third time in three races this season with a 51st-place finish. The Pearl River, N.Y., product crossed the finish line in 18:37.90.
Junior Cozette Collin served as HPU’s No. 2 runner Saturday and placed 55th in a time of 18:44.90.
Fellow junior Natalia Ocasio finished 59th in a collegiate-best 5k time of 18:49.30 while senior Katie Farina also posted a 5k PR (18:50.80) while finishing 61st.
Senior Julia Zautcke placed 87th in 19:46.40 and fellow senior Erika Peoples was 101st in 20:20.30.
Rounding out the HPU contingent, senior Sarah Bode placed 103rd in 20:30.40 and senior Kasey Spence finished 111th in 20:53.10.
“I thought our runners No. 2-4 did a much better job of finding each other in a competitive field,” Wrieden said. “Natalia and Katie ran well. Kelly had a bit of an off day but she’s going to be fine. She’s someone I can always depend on and I know she’ll grow from this experience. We are still lacking at the fifth runner position, but I think adding Courtney [Kerr] back into the mix will help and I believe Erika and Julia can make up that ground as well.”
The Panthers return to action next weekend at the Big South preview event, the USC Upstate Invitational. The event kicks off at 9 a.m. on Saturday (Oct. 3) in Spartanburg, S.C.