FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - - The Wilmington University cross country teams went off the normal path of its schedule this weekend and competed in the 30th Annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at the Arkansas Experimental Farm, hosted by the University of Arkansas on Saturday afternoon.
With 100 teams combined competing at the Festival, the Wildcats more than held their own throughout the day, as the women finished 34th out of 51 teams and the men placed 24th overall out of 49 teams.
Of the 424 women running, the Wildcats were led by freshman Grace Slate's 158th place finish, earning Wilmington 137 points with a 5K time of 19:50.2, her fastest time of the season. Classmate Allyson Kelly placed 213th overall for 183 points, also running her fastest time of the year with a 20:29.2 finish on Saturday.
Another freshman, Rosemary Gillam was right behind Kelly, finishing in 225th overall for 189 points, while also setting a new collegiate PR with a 30:41.1 5K run. Sophomore Alexa Crowell gave the Wildcats 226 points by finishing 275th overall with a time of 21:17.0, 12 seconds off a new PR. Fellow sophomore Julia Merritt rounded out the Wildcat scoring with a 318th place finish, giving the Wildcats 261 points while setting a new 5K PR with a time of 21:56.1.
Junior Emily Kockott rounded out the Wildcats on the course on Saturday, finishing 263rd overall with a time of 23:14.9.
The Wildcats finished 34th overall with a team score of 996. Host Arkansas won the event with a team score of 34, placing runners first, second, and fourth. Freshman Katrina Robinson won the event with a time of 16:15.3.
Of the 441 men running, the Wildcats were led by senior Mark Corrigan, as he finished 50th overall and earned the Wildcats 42 points in the 8K event. He was just eight seconds off an 8K PR as a Wildcat, running the course in 25:46.5. Freshman Brandon Cruz set a collegiate PR in his third race, placing 141st overall for 125 points with a time of 26:56.2.
Fellow freshman Garrett Checchi also set a new collegiate PR, placing 141st overall for 125 points on the afternoon. He finished the course in 26:56.2, nearly a minute and a half faster than the other two 8K's this season. Senior Johnathan Avila was the fourth Wildcat finisher, placing 228th overall for 197 points with an 8K time of 28:00.6.
Junior James Kennedy rounded out the Wildcat scoring on Saturday, finishing in 237th overall for 205 points while setting a Wilmington PR with a time of 28:07.4.
The Wildcats finished 24th overall with a team score of 682 points. Host Arkansas won the event with 38 points, getting points one, two, and three. An unattached runner Frankline Tonui won the event with a time of 24:05.4 followed closely by Arkansas' Gilberto Boit at 24:05.8.
The Wildcats return home and will compete in a familiar event next weekend, as they will head to the Don Cathcart Invitational on Saturday. The women will start off the event at Winter Place Park with a 9:45 a.m. gun.