TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – University of Evansville sophomore Justin Nichols (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy Orange) and junior Emma Denbo (French Lick, Ind./Springs Valley) both cut over more than 30 seconds off of their previous-best 8-K and 5-K times, respectively, on Saturday as the UE cross country teams opened the season at the John McNichols Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Nichols dropped 30 seconds off of his personal-best 8-K time in the men’s race, and ran almost two minutes faster than he did on the same course a year ago, as he finished second on the team to fellow sophomore Adam Oulgout (St. Paul, Minn./Central) with a time of 28:53. Denbo, meanwhile, dropped over a minute and five seconds off of her previous-best 5-K time in the women’s race with a time of 22:07, which also was over two minutes faster than her time on the same course last season.
“I saw some good things today that we can build on,” said UE Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Brooks LeCompte after his first race as head coach of the Purple Aces. “I know they’re still adjusting, and it will not fully translate until later in the year, but it was nice to see some big improvements from what they ran here last year, especially considering today was our first race of the year.”
On the men’s side, all four returning runners for UE ran at least 25 seconds faster than they did a year ago on the exact same course. Oulgout led UE’s men’s effort with an 8-K time of 27:24, which was 26 seconds faster than a year ago. Fifth-year runner Carson Kline (Terre Haute, Ind./South) was just three seconds behind Nichols to run third on the team, while posting his fastest 8-K time since his sophomore year with a time of 28:56. Freshman Joey Taylor (Grove City, Ohio/Central Crossing) and junior Luke Watts (Austin, Ind./Austin) rounded out UE’s scoring pack, with Watts’ time being 50 seconds faster than a year ago.
On the women’s side, sophomore Ellie Stewart (Lombard, Ill./Glenbard South) led UE’s efforts in the 5-K with a time of 21:53. Fellow sophomore Kaitlyn Sansone (Fairfield, Ohio/Mercy McAuley) finished 30 seconds behind Denbo to race third for UE, while junior Hannah Bryan (Evansville, Ind./Reitz) was just two seconds off of her personal-best time with a mark of 23:26. Senior Claire Griffy (Salem, Ill./Salem Community) ran fifth for UE, posting her fastest time since her freshman year.
Overall, the UE women finished 17th overall, while the UE men finished 18th. The Purple Aces will take the next two weeks off before returning to competition on Saturday, October 1, when UE will take part in the annual Live In Lou Classic beginning at 9:45 a.m. central.