WINTER PARK, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's cross country team closed out their season with a 5th place finish from the Sunshine State Conference Championships, Saturday morning from the University of Central Florida Cross County Complex. The Lions tallied 110 overall points in the effort.
Saint Leo's freshman Carl Dunne collected top team honors as he finished first for the Lions, crossing the tape with a time of 27:02.30 and placing 15th overall in the race. Dunne's time marks the 7th fastest 8K race in Saint Leo's program history.
Finishing just a few seconds behind Dunne was freshman Valentin Lenz, whose 20th place finish and time of 27:32.40 marked only his third race as a Saint Leo Lion. Less than ten seconds behind Lenz with a time of 27:41.70 was senior runner Eric Dirth. The race signaled the last 8K that Dirth will ever run donning the green and gold.
Freshman David Hill also notched top accolades as he posted a time of 27:53.50 and finished in the top half of the group.
Junior runner Brian Haynes had an impressive morning as he crossed the tape with a time of 28:22.30. In addition, six Lions finished consecutively as Steven Brown, Kevin Papac, Spencer Mathis, Michael Walker, Jeff Van Natter, and Matthew Basin all finished within 30 seconds of each other.
"I am so proud of the seniors," said head cross country coach Melissa Miller-Mangen. "Eric Dirth ran the last 8K of his college career with his fastest time over the last four years. Anytime you have athletes perform their best at the championships says a lot. Twenty out of our twenty-two Saint Leo athletes ran season or career bests. We couldn't ask for more."
Florida Tech's Chris Cacciapaglia took home individual honors in the race as he crossed the tape with a time of 25:56.60 and placed first out of 53 runners. Nova Southeastern University took home the team championship, however, as they finished with 41 points.
The next race on the docket is the NCAA South Region Championship, which will take place at Sharon Johnston Park in Huntsville, Ala. on Nov. 3. The runners participating in that race will be announced at a later date.
For more on the men's cross country program, please visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Follow' the Lions on Twitter and 'Like' the Lions on Facebook.
This postgame recap is brought to you by Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant, located in Brooksville, Fla. Contact Papa Joe's at 352-799-3904 for dine-in or catering needs.