SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's and women's cross country teams opened their 2015 season by hosting the Salisbury Fall Classic at Winter Place Park, with each team following the game plan for strong showings, both placing in the top three.
The women worked in pairs through their race to take second place, with two runners finishing in the top 10. Sophomore Jessica Lane and freshman Jill Ciritella worked together throughout the 6,000-meter race, and remained near the front of the pack. Lane was the seventh overall finisher, crossing the line in 24:12, while Ciritella was just six seconds behind in eighth place.
The top-10 finishes helped Salisbury to 58 points, which trailed only Marymount (Va.) University. The Saints won the meet with 46 points. The two Capital Athletic Conference teams were well clear of the field, with Division II Pfeiffer University placing third with 103 points, just ahead of Southern Virginia University (104 points), and Shenandoah University (105).
The Sea Gulls' strong team performance saw its top-seven runners all finish in the top-21 places, with senior Laura Hartman coming on strong in the later stages of the race to place 11th in 24:33, and freshman Fiona Halloran finishing in 14th in 24:48.
Freshman Jamie Farley came home in 24:59 to place 18th and finish off the Salisbury scoring, while sophomores Taylor Nantz and Alison Schwartz finished in 20th and 21st to round out the Sea Gull top seven. Nantz finished in 25:16, with Schwartz four seconds behind.
The men held together in groups through the first three miles before making their moves individually, and the strategy paid off with a third-place finish, seeing the team's top seven runners place in the top-23 positions.
Junior Connor Hesselbirg led the way, with a sixth-place finish in 26:37, which is his fastest time on the Winter Place Park 8,000-meter course, while freshman Billy Kirk made the most of his Salisbury debut with a top-10 finish, placing eighth with a time of 26:42.
Three other Sea Gulls landed in the top 20 to complete the scoring for the home team, with sophomore Ben Meister finishing in 11th place in 26:55, followed by sophomore Malcolm Milton in 15th in 27:05 and freshman Connor Masteran in 20th in 27:21.
The Sea Gulls finished with 59 points for the third-place standing, behind race winner Rowan University, which scored 39 points, and the U.S. Naval Academy, which tallied 46 points. Shenandoah (156 points) and Emory & Henry University (164) rounded out the top five.
Salisbury will be off next Saturday, before heading to St. Mary's City, Maryland for the Seahawk Invitational on Saturday, September 19. The Seahawk Invitational will give the Sea Gulls a preview of the CAC championship course, as St. Mary's will host the conference championships this year.