HPU Men’s Cross Country Wins USC Upstate Invite

• The Panthers claimed five of the top-10 spots in the race to earn the victory
• Junior Vinny Todaro won the first individual cross country title of his career in 25:28.97
• Senior Paddy Grandinali placed third in a time of 25:35.97

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The High Point University men’s cross country powered through a muddy and soaked course to pick up its second meet victory of the season Saturday at the USC Upstate Invitational.

The Panthers cruised to victory on the 2015 Big South Championship course and claimed five of the top-10 positions in the race. HPU junior Vinny Todaro claimed the individual event title to pick up the first cross country victory of his collegiate career.

“It feels great to win,” head coach Mike Esposito said. “We’re starting to develop that championship mindset and it was nice to see our team perform well in difficult conditions. I’m very happy for Vinny – he’s worked so hard this fall and to see him rewarded with an individual title is excellent.”

HPU – ranked 10th in the USTFCCCA Southeast region – finished ahead of a pair of regionally-ranked foes. The Panthers won the race with 28 points, finishing comfortably in front of the Southeast region’s No. 13 team, Appalachian State (49 points). South No. 9 Liberty placed third with 70 points, followed by USC Upstate (108) and Florida Gulf Coast (127).

Todaro crossed the rain-soaked finish line in 25:28.97 to claim victory in the event. It marks his second top-5 finish in three starts this season.

Senior Paddy Grandinali was just seven seconds behind Todaro and placed third overall in the 100-runner field in a time of 25:35.97.

Freshman Alejandro Torres returned to form in Spartanburg while placing sixth in a time of 26:01.92. It marked his top 8k mark of the 2015 campaign.

Junior Chernet Sisay continued his breakout junior campaign with an eighth-place finish Saturday. The Brookline, Mass., product crossed the finish line in 26:06.01 to serve as the Panthers’ No. 4 runner.

Redshirt-senior Jeff LaCoste placed fifth to round out the HPU top-5 in a time of 26:11.24.

Senior Cody Seymour placed 29th in 27:22.03, while fellow senior Paul O’Donoghue made a cross country cameo for the Panthers and finished 32nd in 27:44.54. Freshman Bryan Gonzalez rounded out the HPU contingent with a 51st place finish in 28:27.04.

Next up, the Panthers return to action with two events the weekend of Oct. 16-17. HPU’s top-7 runners will head to Louisville, Ky., to compete at the NCAA Pre Nationals event at Tom Sawyer Park on Oct. 17. The remainder of the roster will race at the Wake Forest Invitational on Oct. 16 in Kernersville, N.C.