Cross Country squads running strong, men win RunFit

The Mercer Bears’ cross country squads have started the season strong at several invitationals in the first half of September 2011. The Bears have traveled to Athens for the UGA Invitational to Americus for the Georgia Southwestern Remembrance Run, and have hosted the 10th Annual Mercer RunFit Sports Invitational in their hometown, Macon. The men and women have performed well in regards to the top-level competition that they have encountered.
On Sept. 3, the cross country squad traveled to Athens for the women to take on the Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia State Panthers, Tulane Green Wave, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Emmanuel, and Clark Atlanta at the UGA Equestrian Center.
The men also competed against Chattahoochee Tech and Morehouse. Kacie Niemann finished fifth overall, trailing just four runners from UGA. She eliminated 13 seconds off her previous personal best, set last year at the 2010 Atlantic Sun Championships. It was another school record.
The women finished sixth overall, beating Emmanuel and Clark Atlanta, and they finished just three points behind Georgia Tech. Sammy Woller finished second for the team, at 48th overall. Lena Hamvas, Kylen Hughes, and Christina Kivi rounded out the action for the women.
As for the men, Sony Prosper led a very good day for Mercer Bears cross country men. Prosper clocked in at 19th, Chris Svidesskis at 23rd, Mark Kushinka at 32nd, Jacob Law at 33rd, and Andrew Weems at 56th. The top four finished within 39 seconds of each other, suggesting that this season will be another step in the right direction for the Mercer cross country squads. Coach Ryan Bailey says the summer preparations would be vital to success this season. “I know they all worked hard over the summer and the result of their base-building efforts are showing through already,” Coach Bailey told mercerbears.com.
On Sept. 10, the women’s team traveled to Americus for the Georgia Southwestern Remembrance Run. The women were a mix of first and second team runners, and they still managed to finish third overall. Sammy Woller was the top finisher overall, and Lena Hamvas came in at fifth. Illiana Garcia finished 13th, and Kasie Knapper was six spots back. Caley Cranford did well, grabbing 27th place.
As for the men, only two Mercer runners competed: Geremy Skeen and Joel Aguilar. Skeen finished 47 seconds faster in Americus than in Athens.
On Sept. 17, Mercer hosted the RunFit Sports Invitational, where they took on 11 other schools. The women performed well, finishing second overall as a team, missing first by five points to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). They beat SCAD-Atlanta, Darton College, Clark Atlanta, Brenau, Young Harris, Truett-McConnell, Spelman, Lagrange, and Edward Waters College. Lena Hamvas, Sammy Woller, and Christina Kivi finished third, fourth, and fifth respectively, with Kylen Hughes and Iliana Garcia also finishing in the top fourteen. Kasie Knapper and Caley Cranford did not collect points, but finished very high in the standings as well.
As for the men, they squeaked out a close but narrow victory at the RunFit. They beat SCAD by just three points, capped off with four runners finishing in the top 10 – Sony Prosper, Chris Svidesskis, Jacob Law, and Marc Kushinka. Andrew Weems finished 13th, securing first for the Bears. It was a successful outing for the Bears.
Mercer’s cross country squads are next in action on Oct. 1 at the Greater Louisville Sports Commission Cross Country Festival in Louisville, K.Y.