Story by Shane Lydon, Sports Editor
Photos courtesy of aqsaints.com
It was a happy Homecoming for Aquinas’ Men and Women’s Cross Country teams as they both came out on top at the GRCC Raider XC Invitational in Caledonia on Saturday.
After a second placed finish at the Calvin Knight invitational a few weeks back, the AQ women were confident of another positive outcome in Caledonia and a strong team effort ensured they finished ahead of Wayne State with just three seconds to spare.
Alexis Miller led the way for Aquinas with an impressive second placed finish with a time of 17:29.8. In fact, her performance on the day earned her the WHAC Runner of the Week. Fellow senior Melissa Winchester came in fourth with a time of 17:41.1.
The Aquinas team emphasized their success on the day with three more women finishing in the top ten. Janie Noah, Whitney Taylor and Hanna Grant all powered through to a top ten finish. Hannah Adler and Gabby Brandonisio finished just outside top ten, showcasing the level of the team’s performance on the day.
Their celebrations were matched by the men’s team, who also finished first. It was a much stronger showing from the men’s team after an overall eighth place finish at the Calvin Knight Invitational a few weeks ago. Aquinas had to fight for it on Saturday, beating Wayne State with just one second to spare.
In the collegiate 8k, junior Arik LaFave was AQ’s best runner, finishing fourth with a time of 24:27.6. He was joined in the top ten by brothers, Joey and Mike Ciaravino, and sophomore Gannon Foley. Joey came in with a time of 24:40.2, while Mike was just six seconds further back with a time of 24:46.5. Foley was just one spot back from Mike Ciaravino finishing with a time of 24:48.3.
Other impressive times on the day came from seniors Luke Simmonds and Evan Dunklee, who came in with times of 24:50.7 and 25:09.0, respectively.
Both teams will go into their next race at the Go Cedar Rapids NAIA preview in Iowa brimming with confidence on the back of their latest results. The race takes place on October 6th with the women starting at 11.30 a.m. followed by the men at 12:15 a.m. All athletes will be getting in as much preparation as possible before the WHAC championships take place on November 3rd.