BELMONT, Calif. – Menlo College Men's and Women's Cross Country opened its 2016 campaign on Saturday morning in Belmont at Crystal Springs. The hilly course proved challenging as did the highly-competitive field that included a number of NCAA Div. II schools including Alaska Anchorage who placed third in Div. II a season ago. Menlo was the only NAIA program at the event and had some major positives to build off of moving forward.
On the women's side, Megan Thompson led the charge with a 21st place finish with a time of 21:28 followed by Rachel Valencia who placed 44th overall in her first ever collegiate cross country race. Stephanie Sanchez, Hunter Dupee, and Emily Abrams rounded out the top five Menlo team finishers. Sanchez and Abrams were also running their first ever collegiate races.
The men sent a three-man squad out onto the course and freshman Noble Boutin led the pack and placed 16th overall in his first collegiate race. Boutin ran a time of 23:07 and was followed by sophomore Richard Runkle-Edens who placed 25th with a time of 24:33. Menlo's other competitor was Erick Parsons who came over from the men's wrestling team and completed his first ever race as well.
"The team raced hard today against some elite competition. Noble and Richard ran arguably their fastest races ever, while Megan ran better than her opener last year despite a hilly, difficult course," said Head Coach Dan Noel.
Noel continued, "This was a brand new experience for many of our athletes. We are proud of how they competed today, and look forward to three weeks of hard training before our next race."
That next race comes on the 25th when Menlo heads to Angwin to race at the Pioneer Invite hosted by Pacific Union.