CEDARVILLE, OH- On a rainy, chilly day in Cedarville, Ohio, most of Ohio's near fifty colleges were represented from all divisions in a cross country race for Ohio's bragging rights. Teams such as Ohio State, Miami University, and the University of Dayton competed as well as some of the top teams in the nation in other divisions. The rolling course was saturated with rain from the previous 24 hours as it was still coming down throughout the day. OCU would have seven runners on each side represent their team and the God they serve for the first time in the cross country team's 5-year history. Both teams had their best team performance of the year and the school's history.
On the women's side, Sophomore Ariel Arellano-Young led the Trailblazers' squad placing 41st place in the Varsity Women's race. Young came through her 5k at a season best 19:05 in route to the 23:02 6k finish. There were nearly 300 varsity runners in the race. The performance also placed 12th in the NAIA/NCAA DII results. "Ariel is a very focused and determined student-athlete and she has quickly become a leader of our young Ohio Christian University program. She ran a smart and very tough race that was well-deserving of a finish that high amongst the state's best collegiate runners," stated Head Coach Eric Hamner. Her teammates followed suit by running great races as well. Freshman Aly Turrentine (199th overall/54th in DII/NAIA) fought through a limp due to a sore hamstring to finish strong. Junior Kara Bandy (235th overall/65th in DII/NAIA) ran her season best through 5k and finished even stronger for her best career finish at the meet. Freshman Madigan Marshall (250th/73rd in DII/NAIA) was close behind in her debut at the meet. Faith Layman (277th/87th in DII/NAIA) stepped up for the team to be the last scorer while teammates Chanel McFarlin and Zarria Williams took the next two spots. "It was a great team effort and while I know we will run better at the end of the season it was great seeing the girls come together to represent OCU and give their talents and efforts back to God." The young team also qualified themselves to the NCCAA National Meet and had their highest team finish at the meet (34th out of the nearly 50 colleges represented).
On the men's side, Sophomore Kyle Benecke lead the team with a 140th overall finish and that placed him 44th in the DII/NAIA division. "Since returning from a stress fracture in the spring of last year this was Kyle's best performance and he is surely going to be stronger than ever from here on out," said Coach Hamner. Freshman Canaan Gardner (159th overall/54th in the DII/NAIA) was close behind as he ran his second 8k race strong. Junior Dylan Newton (215th overall/75th in DII/NAIA) barely held off Freshman Hayden Mink (216th overall/76th in the NAIA) as Mink had the best race of his collegiate career. Freshman Sam Church (255th overall/92nd in DII/NAIA) ran a courageous race to round out the OCU scores as he is still recovering from an illness. Sophomore Brock Shick (261 overall/95th in DII/NAIA) ran one of the best personal races of the day as he knocked nearly two minutes off his best 8k time in the not so fast conditions. Freshman Devin Miller (267th overall) finished out the Varsity squad. "The guys ran a smart first mile and moved up the entire race with their strength. Each person did their part have the best team finish in school history at the meet. Our pack just needs to tighten up and move further up and I am confident they will be able to do that as the season progresses. I am very proud of both teams," said Coach Hamner. OCU's next meet will be on Friday October 14th at Wilmington College's Jenna Strong Classic.
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