Winthrop's men's team got the expected solid performances from its three usual suspects, plus some gutsy runs by some of the younger Eagles to make an impressive showing in Saturday's Winthrop Invitational Cross Country Meet at the Winthrop Farm.
The host Eagles finished second in the men's Gold Division, eight points behind East Tennessee State. One injury could have prevented coach Ben Paxton's squad from taking top honors.
"We really felt we had a good chance of winning this meet," Paxton said, "but Casey Lyons, our top recruit and our No. 4 runner, went down with cramps at 3 miles. That really hurt."
Brad Orr and Trevor Beesley ran two and three with times of 25:22 and 25:23, respectively. Northwestern product Brandon Hudgins placed sixth with a time of 27:03 over the reconfigured 10k layout.
East Tennessee's Kenneth Rotich ran away from the field, fishing with a time of 25:13.
"Brad, Trevor and Brandon ran excellent races," Paxton said. "But we had some young guys step up."
One of those young runners was freshman Tyler Hudgins, who finished 11th with a time of 27:03.
"Tyler ran a tremendous race," Paxton said of the Northwestern graduate. "We're not deep, but to have three guys in the top six and four in the top 11 is exciting."
On the women's side, sophomore Lisa Sickman led the Lady Eagles to third with a personal best of 18:22. That was almost a minute and a half better than her performance at Appalachian State two weeks ago.
"Lisa finally performed up to her workouts," Paxton said. "Track is her first love, but I can see she's getting into cross country."
Davidson put three runners in the top five to claim the overall Garnet Division title by 15 points over South Carolina. Caroline Sanker and Brenna Burns took the top two spots with times of 17:12 and 17:20 over the 8K course.
Birmingham-Southern's women won the Garnett Division team title, while the Mars Hill's men finished first.
Both men's and women's races are divided into two divisions based on school size.