Cross country tallies best-ever national finish

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lawrence, Kansas – Lyle Pocha finished seventh and Leah Esposito finished 12th to lead the Carroll College cross country teams to their best-ever finishes at the NAIA National Championship.

The women finished fourth overall in team scoring and the men finished ninth.

“Both teams finish in the top ten and higher than any Carroll team has ever finish and higher than we were ranked all season,” head cross country coach David Morris said. “You really can’t hope for much better than that. I am really proud of all of our runners. 

Lyle Pocha ran arguable his best race of the season. He worked his way into the lead pack early en route to the top-ten finish.

“Lyle went straight to the front, was aggressive and smart,” Morris said. “He was right in the top ten for the whole race, I figured he would be top 20 but seventh is awesome.”

Esposito was again the top Carroll finisher. Her 12th place finish was five spots lower than her finish in 2013.

“The field was much better for the elite finishers,” Morris said. She was a little disappointed with 12th place but any time you finish in the top 15 at nationals there isn’t anything to be ashamed of. She ran a pretty good race.”

The difference maker for the Carroll was the team’s depth. Six the seven racers finished in the top 100 for the women.

“Sandy (Torres) and Hanah (Hafner) raced really well today,” Morris said. “We had a lot more depth this meet than we previously had. Not everyone had their best race but our depth carried us. “

Coach Morris will have a little extra weight in his luggage for the ride home. The top four teams receive trophies. The performance fulfills a goal of the 2014 Saints.

“At the beginning of the season our goal was to get one of the trophies for the women and finish in the top 15 for the men,” Morris said. “To see that come to fruition is a pretty awesome. I am so proud of this group.”