By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s men’s and women’s cross country teams opened their seasons Saturday on a wet and muddy course in the Western North Carolina Cross Country Carnival at Hendersonville’s Jackson Park.
“Apparently Friday night there was a flood in Hendersonville,” Coach Pam Shuler said. “Everything was pretty much under water. Part of the course was four and a half to five inches under water. Running uphill there was no traction and downhill there was slipping and sliding.”
The women took part in the more competitive championship race as well as the invitational race. The men only ran the invitational race.
“For our first race of the season, we had some good running and some improvement,” Shuler said. “We’re ready to progress in our regular season.”
The Lady Mustangs finished 19th out of 20 teams in the championship race, which drew 142 runners. Anna Morgan led SM as she was 83rd in 24:11. Completing the Lady Mustangs’ top five were:
Lily Buenting, 84th, 24:13; Becky Pechmann, 118th, 26:19; Lucy McRae, 120th, 26:30; and Maia Wilde, 139th, 29:15.
In the men’s invitational race, the Mustangs were 24th out of 31 teams. There were 230 runners. Ben Saunooke paced SM as he was 122nd in 21:45. Rounding out the Mustangs’ top five were:
Parker Smith, 129th, 21:51; Henry Hanks, 155th, 22:43; Caleb Phillips, 56th, 22:44; and Sam Conlin, 163th, 22:53.
Although he didn’t place in a scoring position, Shuler noted that Brendan Millsaps’ time of 27:21 was a personal best.
In the women’s invitational, the Lady Mustangs were last out of 23 teams. There were 176 runners. Ashton Buchanan led SM as she was 145th in 29:36. Completing the Lady Mustangs’ top five were:
Emma Jutte, 149th, 29:52; Lydia Norman, 153th, 30:04; Hadley Huffman, 172nd, 32:37; and Carisa Tilley, 176th, 36:01.
“All of these girls have improved their times from the preseason race,” Shuler said.