Runners continue to shatter records at Royal XC Challenge

Mercer’s men and women’s cross country teams traveled to Charlotte, N.C. to compete in the Royal Cross Country Challenge on Friday, Oct. 14.  Held at the cross country hub of McAlpine Creek Park, the teams performed very well on this fast course, and many runners brought home personal records.
The Lady Bears were led by junior Kacie Niemann, who placed 19th in the field of 201 and finished the 5K with a time of 18:21.96.  Niemann has put together a solid season so far, and undoubtedly, she will be looking to carry her strong performances into the A-Sun Championships at the end of October.
Finishing second and third for Mercer was a pair of sophomores, Lena Hamvas and Samanatha Woller, who placed 32nd and 37th. Both runners broke the 19-minute barrier for the first time with race times of 18:46.86 and 18:54.60, respectively. Senior Christina Kivi (19:23.11) finished fourth for the Bears (54th overall), and sophomore Kylen Huges (19:50.89) rounded out Mercer’s team score, finishing 69th place overall.  The Lady Bears’ posted another strong season performance, finishing in sixth out of 21 teams. Mercer’s average time was 19:03, which was 23 seconds behind fifth place Davidson and 1:16 behind meet winner Florida State University.
Also running in the meet for the Lady Bears was freshman Iliana Garcia, who posted yet another personal record with a time of 20:02.77, junior Kasie Knapper (20:36.46), sophomore Caley Crawford (22:02.64), and Freshman Danielle Chimenti (23:02.89). The Lady Bears will be looking to build upon their impressive performances this season at the A-Sun Championships in Nashville, TN on Oct. 29.
Mercer’s men’s team also had a very good outing in Charlotte, picking up fifth place out of 10 teams. The Bears put forth a very solid and consistent team effort, finishing with only nine places between their first and fourth runners.  Sophomore Sony Prosper once again led the Bears, and for the second-straight race, Prosper ran within seconds of the school record, posting a time of 25:26.64 and placing 18th in the field of 174. Prosper was only 2.64 seconds behind the Men’s school record, set by Justin Parker.  One place behind Prosper was junior Jacob Law, finishing with a time of 25:35.35, a personal record.  Following closely behind Law and finishing third for the Bears was fellow junior Chris Svidesskis who placed 23rd with a time 25:38.78, also a personal record. The fourth spot for the Bears was captured by senior Marc Kushinka who finished with a time of 25:49.30 (27th overall). Mercer’s top four runners finished within 24 seconds of each other, an impressive feat for a team of any caliber. Rounding out the top five for the Bears was junior Andrew Weems who ran 26:19.42, good for 50th. Thanks to impressive performances from all five scoring runners, the Bears were able to set yet another team record, averaging 25:45.90 for the 8K course.  This new record earned the Bears fifth place, only four seconds off fourth place team Elon University and only 44 seconds off the time averaged by meet winner Davidson University.
Also racing for the Bears was freshman Jeff Law who placed (27:14.42) 77th, sophomore Kasib Abdullah (27:37.30) who placed 92nd, senior Geremy Skeen (28:34.39) who placed 114th, and freshman Joel Aguilar (29:51.06) who placed 135th. Like the Lady Bears, the men will be in action again on Oct. 29 at the A-Sun Championships in Nashville.