BLUFFTON, OH - The weather turned out to be nearly perfect Friday evening for the first race of the season for the Trailblazers as they were hosted by Bluffton University. Both the men's and women's OCU cross country teams are very young this season with nearly three quarters of the team being underclassmen, but they competed well for their first match. The men's team was led by freshman Canaan Gardner, who finished in 22nd place with a time of 20:09 for the 6k course. Last year's top runner, Kyle Benecke, ran his first race since obtaining a stress fracture in the spring with a time of 20:41, placing 32nd in the 105 runner field. Junior Dylan Newton (53rd), Freshman Hayden Mink (65th), and Samuel Church (79th) rounded out the top five runners for the Trailblazers. Church was actually tripped and stepped on during the race, but bounced back up to battle for the team. The men's team placed 7th out of 9 teams.
Sophomore transfer, Ariel Young (Arellano), debuted as a Trailblazer with a 4th place finish in a time of 19:06 for the 5k course. That time is also a new OCU school record. Freshman Alyssa Turrentine (Elida, OH) placed 13th in a time of 20:10. Freshman Madigan Marshall (57th), Junior Kara Bandy (71st), and rookie senior Chanel McFarlin (78th) rounded out the scorers for the women's team. The Lady Trailblazers finished 5th out of 8 teams in the overall standings, which is a great improvement from last year's team finish. "It was a great night and the team came in well prepared and ran a good opening race," said Head Coach Eric Hamner. "Today was a good starting point for our team, but there is a lot of work left to be done. I am confident in their abilities and determination to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals."