Runners finish strong amid problems

After slow starts Saturday, both Saluki cross-country teams rebounded to place in the top 10 at the Chicago Lakefront Invitational.

SIU’s men finished second in another strong outing and lost only to Wisconsin by 11 points.

Earning a time of 24 minutes and 49 seconds, junior Brian Dixon completed the day with a second consecutive top-10 finish (6 out of 456). Junior Zach Dahleen also finished in the top 10 at 24:59 for ninth place. Freshman Oscar Medina and sophomores Evan Ehrenheim and Nick Schrader obtained top- 25 finishes. Sophomores Cole Allison, Kulayifi Haji and junior Lucas Cherry finished within the top 100 of 456 runners.

“In this race, we saw anywhere from 400-500 runners, which is double the amount we saw in the last two meets,” coach Matt Sparks said. “We did a good job of running within ourselves.”

The team was riding a two-meet win streak, and Sparks said untimely mistakes might have cost it an even higher finish.

Redshirt freshman Juan Carrera said he hoped to notch another top-15 performance Saturday.

“When my shoe came off (at about the half mile mark), I tried to keep running … The pain was so bad from the gravel that I started jogging,” he said. “I knew I was finished after that.”

Carerra, who finished second at the Walt Crawford Open and fourth at the Saluki Invitational, said he was proud of the team for picking up his slack.

“There were some pretty big names out there,” he said. “But no matter who we’re playing, we’re going for the win.”

Earning a Did Not Finish doesn’t set Carerra back at all. Instead, he said he is anxious for the big meets that lie ahead.

“We can take a lot more positives from this meet. I’m pretty confident we should have faster times next time,” he said. “My goal is still to win at least two conference rings, so I’m hoping to finish this year off strong.

The Saluki women’s team placed sixth out of 51 schools that participated in the 5k race, and seven runners received top-100 finishes. Sophomore Lacey Gibson finished 34th after a rough start. Junior Alyssa Allison, sophomore Sadie Darnell and freshman Kristen Levi all notched top-50 times and finished within five seconds of each other.

Gibson said she was pleased with her time despite falling shortly after the starting whistle.

“Everyone is trying to get into a good position in the beginning, and it can get pretty hectic,” she said. “I really had to work my way back.

Gibson said although there were mixed results, the team ran well for the most part.

“We had top-five in mind coming into the week, but we came close,” she said.

Sparks said the meet was a good indicator of the team’s overall performance.

“By no means did we have a best day today,” Sparks said. “We were able to fight through some tough problems and still managed to finish strong.”

The Salukis will return to competition Oct. 12 at the Bradley Classic in Peoria.

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