By Curt Syness, Helena IR
Carroll College sophomore Leah Esposito led the Saints women to the Carroll Early Bird Cross Country team championship on Friday. Esposito, a 2013 NAIA All-American after a seventh-place finish, won the 4K race at Bill Roberts Golf Course in a time of 14 minutes, 42.05 seconds.
Carroll, which placed five athletes in the Top 9, scored 29 points as a team, edging runner-up MSU Billings at 33, by four points.
In the men's race, MSU Billings copped the team title with 26 points, while sweeping the top three individual places. Robert Peterson won the title, running the 6K course in 18:52.07. Carroll tied for second with Spokane CC at 51 points apiece. David Thor was the Hilltop's top finisher, taking fourth at 19:35.39.
By Troy Shockley, Helena IR
The Saints are starting the season as a bit of a target -- and they're just fine with that. The Carroll College cross country teams will open their fall schedule by hosting the Early Bird Invite on Friday at Bill Roberts Golf Course. Carroll is also hosting a high school meet, which will kick off the day at 9:30 a.m. The college meet will follow, at 10:50.
"It's a busy week for us, putting on the meet," coach David Morris said. "I think last year, being my first year, was kind of crazy. It's a little better this year, but it's still a busy week. Still, we're all really excited to go into the season with who we have on the team this year."
With a large stable of returners, the Carroll women start the year ranked sixth in the nation. Leading the Saints will be fifth-year senior Rhianna Grossman.
Six members of the Carroll men’s cross country team and three from the women’s team were named to the Frontier Conference’s All-Academic team.
The six Fighting Saints men selected were seniors Dennis Leigh (civil engineering), Lyle Pocha (chemistry), Troy Solly (civil engineering), junior Kyle Willis (secondary education-mathematics) and sophomores Connor Garcia (communications) and Alex Ramm-Hutchison (biology). From the women’s team, senior Rhianna Grossman (education) and juniors Regan Bold (health cciences) and Hannah Hafner (biology) were selected All-Academic Frontier Conference.
To be eligible for the Academic All-Conference team, student-athletes must be at least a sophomore in academic standing, maintain a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled at school the previous two semesters.
The Carroll College women’s cross country team qualified for the NAIA national meet, and the men’s team placed two individuals in the field for nationals.
By Amber Kuehn, Helena IR
Many runners can only dream of getting to race at a national meet, let alone turn in one of their best performances against the country’s top competition. But Carroll College freshman Leah Esposito did just that Saturday, exceeding expectations with a seventh-place overall finish individually. It was the best a Saints’ woman has ever done at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, and the Helena native was ecstatic.
“It felt really good; I definitely wasn’t expecting to place that high,” said Esposito, who finished in 18 minutes, 5.52 seconds – one second out of sixth place. “I’m completely blown away by how good I did. That was one of the best races I’ve ever run.”
The Carroll women finished 11th overall, six spots lower than last year. But the Saints were an inexperienced team loaded with freshmen, and only one runner had ever competed at a national meet before.
Coach David Morris
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