BOONE, NC–Winthrop men’s and women’s cross country coach Ben Paxton had high expectations for his freshmen class and he wasn’t disappointed on Friday at the season-opening Covered Bridge Open at Appalachian State.
In the women’s 5K run, the first six finishers for Winthrop were freshmen while on the men’s side the first five finishers in the 8K for the Eagles were newcomers. The Winthrop women finished sixth out of 11 schools while the men were ninth in a field that included three Atlantic Coast Conference schools along with East Carolina, Temple and host Appalachian State.
Winthrop heralded freshman Kevin Mills had a strong collegiate debut as the product from Suwanee, GA finished 12th with a time of 21:29.32 and missed a top 10 finish by only two-tenths of a second.
For the women, freshman twins Christine and Samantha Cunningham from Myrtle Beach finished first and third for the Eagles while local product Victoria Burdette from South Pointe H.S. was the second Eagle to cross the finish line. Christine Cunningham was 38th in a time of 20:40.38 while Samantha was 56th with a clocking of 21:29.96. Burdette was 49th with a time of 21:21.70.
The remaining Winthrop finishers included freshmen Emily Sparrow (Clover, SC, 58th, 21:38.75), Hannah Lopez (Hoschton, GA, 59th, 21:40.14), and Jessica Van Cleave (Jacksonville, FL, 79th, 22:39.40), while seniors Jessica Whitmire (Pendleton, SC) finished 84th (23:17.18) and Alexis Miller (Beaufort, SC) was 87th at 23:44.30. Rounding out the women’s performances was Jaclyn Baker (Rock Hill, SC) who was 92nd with a time of 25:07.31.
In the men’s race, the four freshmen who placed behind Mills included Giavani Wiley-Miller (Virginia Beach, VA, 68th, 23:28.53), Samuel DiBridge (Greenville, SC, 70th, 23:28,36), Cameron Ruppe (Rock Hill, SC, 74th, 23:53.63), and Loftin Bridges (Rock Hill, SC, 79th, 24:11.60), Placing 84th was sophomore Matthew Egbert (Columbia, SC, 24:48.51) while sophomore Eric Hammett (Columbia, SC) rounded out the Eagle men with a 87th place finish in 26:26.25.
Wake Forest won both team titles. In the women’s event the Demon Deacons tallied 43 points to edge by North Carolina (44) by just one point and host Appalachian State (45) by two points. Winthrop tied Temple for sixth place with 215 points. In the men’s race, Wake ran away with the team title with 23 points as it had the top three finishers and five of the top 10. The Winthrop men tallied 231 points as they finished ahead of Charlotte and North Carolina State.