The West Virginia cross country team took second-place at the Big 12 Championships Saturday in Waco, Texas, on the Cottonwood Golf Course. The Mountaineers finished with a team score of 104.
West Virginia head coach Sean Cleary said he saw his team improve from their fourth-place finish a year ago.
“This was a very nice way to finish up at the Big 12 Championships. We have had a very interesting build up this season in preparations for this meet. Coming home with the runner-up spot was a very satisfying result,” he said. “This was the very best that we could have done in terms of a team result. I am very proud of this group.”
In the days leading up the race in Waco, the Cottonwood Golf Course experienced heavy rain, making the course muddy and difficult to manage.
“The rain surely made the course more challenging. While I do not believe this played a role in our team’s finishing place, I do feel it played a part in a few of the girls coming home a little disappointed in their individual performance,” Cleary said. “The group made no excuses about the conditions, and we will use it as an obstacle to grow from.”
Senior Sarah Martinelli crossed the finished line first for the Mountaineers, coming in eighth overall.
Martinelli finished the 6k in 20:44.9, which was a full minute faster from her time last year(21:48.5). Martinelli’s efforts in Waco earned her All-Big 12 honors.
“Sarah ran the race of her life to garner All-Big 12 honors. I am so happy for her leadership on the course this weekend,” Cleary said.
Sophomore Paige Szabat and freshman Amy Cashin rounded off West Virginia with 27th and 38th finishes, respectively. With all of his runners finishing in top-40, including three freshmen, Cleary said he is optimistic about the future of his program.
“This was a very good learning experience for our freshmen. While some of them came away from the meet a little frustrated with their individual performances, they take from it a positive outlook that they have helped the team finish second,” Cleary said. “We have a very good freshman class. In time they have the ability and desire to become all-time greats for us.”
With the Big 12 Championships behind them, Cleary and his squad can focus on the upcoming NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. While the Big 12 Championships left some WVU runners disappointed, they will have a chance to rebound on a course they have already seen twice this year.
“We need a very strong NCAA Regional result to advance to the national finals. I have total faith that we will run our best race of the year in two weeks,” Cleary said.
The NCAA Mid Atlantic Regional will be held in Bethlehem, Pa., Friday, Nov. 15.