*This article was originally published in The Inkwell and its website.
The Armstrong Pirates cross country team continued their impressive start by finishing in second place at the 2013 CIU Invitational, hosted by Columbia International University, in Columbia, S.C. This was the best finish at the meet for the cross country team since the team’s reinstatement in 2009.
“It’s nice to accomplish new things, but I have a group that has much higher expectations,” said head coach Michael Sergi.
Armstrong also had four runners finish in the top 10 for the first time since the reinstatement.
The Pirates collected 50 points to finish right behind North Greenville (41) in the seven-team field. Montreat (77) finished third, followed by Auburn Montgomery (96) and host Columbia International (97) to round out the top five teams.
Freshman Alex Martinez led the Pirates with a time of 29:16.27, finishing the 8K course in fifth place, despite tough conditions.
“The course was very narrow, hilly and trails were angled,” Martinez said. “It was like leaning while running.”
“We’ve worked well as a team on back-to-back challenging courses,” Sergi said.
Junior Varun Gopinath finished right behind for sixth place, with a time of 29:19.91. Freshmen Christian Davis and Pablo Castro finished seventh and eighth individually. Davis ran a 29:28.97, while Castro ran a 29:35.32. Senior Matus Mydla finished 25th with a time of 32:37.10, and sophomore Arisa Spill ran a 44:54.58 for 48th place.
“As a team we need to improve on our speed and staying together as a pack at the same time,” Martinez said.
The Pirates will race again on Sept. 28 at the Mercer University RunFit Sports Invitational in Macon.