The Saluki cross-country teams continued their hot start to the season as the men and women swept the competition for the second meet in a row.
The women routed the competition in the 5k race at the Saluki Invitational by notching five of the top seven times, including first- and second-place finishes by sophomores Sadie Darnell (18:21.14) and Lacey Gibson (18:28.01) respectively. Fifth-place winner freshman Kristen Levi, sixth-place victor freshman Kelley Gallagher, and seventh-place finisher junior Alyssa Allison, each finished within 11 seconds of each other. Sophomore Tori Parry rounded out the top 10 for the Saluki women as she finished in ninth place with a time of 19 minutes and 20 seconds.
Gibson said the home course is much more challenging than most schools they will face over the remainder of the season.
“This is a pretty tough course. There are more hills and stuff here than most places,” she said. “We will have faster times when we start running on flatter courses.”
Junior runner Jacqueline Lintzenich said she was proud of the team and its performance in the season’s last home race.
“Winning here isn’t easy for anyone to do, even with home field advantage. The team did really well, even though this course is hilly, slow and difficult,” Lintzenich said.
The Saluki men were equally impressive in their 8K domination race Saturday morning.
Junior Brian Dixon won second place behind Northern Iowa’s Brett Egan with a 25:29.60 finish. A convoy of Salukis from second to 12th were separated by less than a second. Although the men were unable to win the individual title, junior Zach Dahleen (third), freshman Juan Carrera (fourth) and sophomore Nick Schrader (fifth) each finished within the top five to help the Salukis secure the win.
Carrera said he battled with respiratory issues early in the race, but he was able to overcome it by the end.
“I had problems breathing for the first few miles of the race,” he said. “It may have affected me in the past, but I’ve been getting better (at breathing) since last year.”
The University of Northern Iowa was the only Missouri Valley Conference team present at the Saluki Invitational, but Carrera said the Salukis had extra motivation to outperform them.
“UNI is in our conference and we do consider them a rival … Coach was talking about them a lot in this week’s practice,” he said. “They really made us earn our preseason number one ranking, and it feels good to beat an in-conference opponent.”
Sophomore Cole Allison said the team’s gained confidence early in the season will pay off when tournament time comes.
“I hope we can stay on this winning streak,” Allison said. “We are all warming up early in our schedule. We need to stay on the winning track for as long as we can.”
The Salukis will have a chance to continue their streak Saturday at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational in Chicago.