Cross Country places second without their top five

In their last tune-up before the conference championships, the Carnegie Mellon men?s cross-country team sat their top five runners and still finished second at the Waynesburg College Invitational Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore runner Jason Jura led the Tartans with an 11th-place finish on a day that was so windy that the runners? uniforms flapped wildly and it was a struggle just to maintain straight running lanes.
?The wind was incredible, and the ground was uneven; it was almost hard to stay upright,? said Jura. ?It was very unusual to run in those conditions.? Sophomore Doug Fricker, who finished 23rd in the race, added, ?It was a flat course, so the times were supposed to be low, but running in that kind of wind I think we did well to finish where we did.?
Besides serving as final preparation for the UAA championships, Saturday?s race also was important because it is the location of next year?s regional course. As a result, none of CMU?s senior runners ran, giving the younger Tartans the opportunity to memorize the various turns and slopes of the course for next year?s important race.
?It was a great chance to get acquainted with the course since it will be the region course for next year,? said Junga. ?We know what to expect now with the fast times and the uneven ground, so that should help.?
The women?s team also fared well in their last tune-up before the championship season. The team placed sixth of 13 squads despite not having senior captain Jocelyn Sikora run.
The Tartans were led by first-year Rachel Perry, who placed 19th overall and first on the team. She completed the less than four mile course in 27:04, a pace of 7:16 per mile, to set the pace for her teammates.
Behind her, seniors Kate Hollabaugh and Kim Kicielenski placed 30th and 32nd, just four seconds apart in 28:26 and 28:30. Sophomore Erin Gagnon placed 40th and first-year Leigh Fortenberry rounded out the scoring for the Tartans, placing 56th overall.
Carnegie Mellon hosts the UAA championships in two weeks on October 29, and the race will be held on the hills of Schenley Park. The men?s team finished third at this event each of the last two years. This year?s team, though, has run better than any in recent CMU history, and Fricker at least believes they have the ability to finish at the top of the conference.
?We?ve run as well as all of the teams that will be there so far,? he said. ?I think finishing first or second is very realistic. We know the course, and we have a lot of good runners, so this is the year to do it.?
The women also look to improve on last year?s finish and overcome the loss of senior Drea Garvue, the team?s number-two runner who is studying abroad.