CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Buccaneers attacked their first 10k on a grueling course at Panorama Farms at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship. The Bucs nearly made the top 20, by placing 21st with a total score of 569, in the midst of exploding colors and fierce runners on Friday morning.
"The combination of a 10k course and steep hills was daunting for the guys, especially because the majority are freshmen and it was our first 10k this season," said Jim Stintzi, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country.
The young Buccaneers put in a brave effort, but lagged a bit behind the expectations, after the huge success at the Conference Championship. Still, the squad of Bucs was the third fastest team out of all Big South teams at the Regional Championship.
"We did well, but I believe we could have done even better. In a way, it can be a good thing because it left us hungry for more," said Stintzi. "In the race, we had a slightly different strategy for every individual. But overall, we were hoping that Fearghal (Curtin) and Jeryck (Wilson) would get out in the top fifty or sixty and just stay there or move up, and hope everyone else would be moving closer to a hundred," Stintzi added.
Fearghal Curtin was the sixth freshman to finish the 10k. Curtin, showing great promise for the future, was 16th after the first mile, but took a bit of a hit in the hills of the third and fourth mile. The Buccaneer did not back down and finished his first 10k ever in 30:25. The effort earned Curtin a 41st place out of the top 230 runners in the region.
"It was very hard with the hills and the longer distance, but I tried to go with the front group and hang onto them. After 5k I had to let go. The pace was picking up and my legs were tired. But I am happy with the race and this whole season," said Curtin. "I really like it here and I really like the team. We will be running hard together through each season, to get up there and be at the top of the region," Curtin added.
The theme of the team has been pulling each other through, at practice, races and in everyday life. The squad shows increasing motivation, determination and faith in the coaches and the program.
Jeryck Wilson, the second Buccaneer to finish, said "We will definitely be up there next year."
Wilson finished in 31:11 and was 78th in the race. He did not allow a single runner to pass him after the first mile. As usual, he was hunting for the back of Fearghal Curtin. This time Curtin was too far ahead to reach.
Another solid effort was produced by Jaymee Domoney, the third Buccaneer to finish. Domoney crossed the finish line in 32:20 (136th), after falling over in the herd of runners in the first mile. Domoney was closely followed by Joshua Bowers for the first few miles. Bowers fell back and worked together with Adam Huff through the second half of the race. Both Buccaneers put in strong effort, corresponding to their best races this season, with Huff clocking 32:55 (167th) and Joshua Bowers leaning over the line in 33:02 (169th).
Adjusting to the increased mileage and intensity has been a productive process for the whole cross country team. The work that started in 2016 has already resulted in many of the best performances the Charleston Southern cross country team has seen in the last 20 years.
"We made a really big leap of improvement this year. I would like to see the same kind of improvement next year; all the guys and girls that are here really want it. With some additions on the women's side, we will become competitive not just in the Big South but in the region," Stintzi concluded.
The Buccaneers will now transition into pre-season for track and field. The first race will be held January 6 at Clemson.