SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University cross country teams kicked off their 2014 season on Saturday morning by hosting the annual Fall Classic at Winter Place Park on a humid morning. The men came away with a third-place finish, while the women took fourth.
With just two returning runners on the roster, one of whom was injured and not competing on Saturday, the initial meet was the first chance for many new faces to make an impact in maroon and gold, and it proved to be the team itself that shined.
Salisbury finished with 144 points to take fourth place, 11 points clear of Catholic University of America, in fifth.
The game plan heading into the race was for the Sea Gulls to pace themselves early, and work as a group throughout the race, and they did just that.
The pair remained near each other, with the rest of their teammates close behind as Lane would close her first collegiate race as the team's top finisher, crossing the line in 24:03.19 in 25th place. Cloud was just five spots back, finishing in 24:32.73.
Salisbury's other three scorers, came across the line as a group, finishing just five spots apart with freshmen Taylor Nantz and Michelle Stoker finishing in 47th and 48th, respectively, in 26:03.27 and 26:07.77. Classmate Alison Schwartz placed 52nd in 26:18.94.
Johns Hopkins University saw its top-ranked squad pull clear of the field early and never looked back, taking the team title, with 10 runners in the top 11 positions, including the top seven to finish with a perfect score of 15 points. Otterbein University placed second, with 62 points, and Loyola (Md.) University finished third (64 points).
Salisbury was the top of three Capital Athletic Conference schools in the meet, with St. Mary's College of Maryland finishing sixth (169 points) and Marymount (Va.) University taking eighth (210 points).
The men's team, with more returners, came off the starting line a bit stronger, but with the same plan as the women – to work as a unit. The plan worked as the Sea Gulls finished in a pack, collecting 86 points, behind only Johns Hopkins (18 points) and the Naval Academy (56 points).
The runners kept to the game plan as junior Thomas Burke and senior George Martinez led the squad throughout the race, but there was never more than a few seconds separating Salisbury's top runner to the trail runner through the first 5,000 meters.
The teams from Johns Hopkins and Navy took the lead, but Salisbury's squad led the remainder of the field, after a short gap, and the maroon and gold held that position until the final lap around Winter Place Park.
In the closing meters, the field spread out, but it was Burke, finishing in 15th with a time of 26:50.43, and Martinez, placing 16th with a time of 26:52.86, that led the Sea Gulls to their strong team finish.
Salisbury's five scorers were separated by only 15 seconds as senior Brandon Horning took 18th, in 26:54.80, followed by sophomore Connor Hesselbirg, who placed 24th in 27:04.67, and junior Eric Wood, in 26th, in 27:05.83.
The Salisbury men's team was also the top among CAC schools in the field with St. Mary's placing fifth, with 157 points, and Marymount scoring 179 points, for a seventh-place finish.
The Salisbury teams will be off next week, returning to action on Saturday, September 13 at the University of Delaware Invitational.