Oct. 4, 2008
Auburn, AL – In what was the biggest test of the young season thus far, Clemson’s cross country squads produced solid individual and team results Saturday at Auburn’s Tiger Invitational. The event was held at the Indian Pines Golf Course. The men’s layout was reported to be a few meters shy of a true 8,000m course, but the women’s layout was right at 5000m.
Behind the strong running of senior Sam Bryfczynski, the men’s team placed fourth out of 24 schools in the 8K orange race. Auburn, ranked #21 in the latest coaches’ poll, took home the men’s championship with 31 points, while Washington was runner-up at 49 total points. Iowa was third with 72, while the Tigers totaled 155 and held off Georgia Tech by a single point to finish fourth.
Bryfczynski, one of the Tigers’ co-captains this season, recorded a personal best by a healthy margin over his previous top performance. The Marietta, GA native ran a time of 23:24.35 and finished 10th place overall. His previous best had been 24:40 at last season’s Pre-NCAA Championships. Bryfczynski got out to a strong start, running his opening mile in just four and a half minutes.
Jonathan Sunde, out of Charlotte, NC, was the team’s #2 finisher in the 35th position. Sunde also recorded a personal best with a time of 24:03.58. He held off teammate Will Noble at the line. Noble, a co-captain, also had a personal best at 24:03.69. Chad Holt was 44th overall with a time of 24:13.50, while fellow sophomore Tyler Morey came across the line 55th with a time of 24:26.33. Both times were also personal bests on Auburn’s extremely fast race course.
The women’s team finished seventh out of 23 teams, but did manage to place ahead of fellow ACC schools Georgia Tech and Florida State in the final team standings. Washington, the third-ranked women’s team in the latest poll, dominated to the tune of 19 total points. The Husky women swept the top three individual positions. Oregon State (98) was runner-up, while Iowa (99) was third. Clemson posted a total of 195 points on Saturday.
Jenna Baker, a sophomore, once again led the women’s attack for Clemson. As was the case on the men’s side, nearly everyone in the lineup recorded a personal best for the Lady Tigers. Baker had an exceptional career-best time of 16:59.66 and was 18th in the final individual rankings. Her previous best had been 18:10 in 2007.
Perhaps the story of the day was the performance by Kim Ruck, a walk-on in her first collegiate competition. She finished 27th overall with a time of 17:17.21. Ruck did not even compete in cross country in high school. She was a decorated prep soccer player who earned a spot on the roster just weeks ago.
Another freshman, Alyssa Kulik, was impressive on Saturday. The former AAAA cross country champion in the state of South Carolina crossed the finish line with a time of 17:51.20. She was 50th out of 206 competitors at the meet.
Laura Laughlin (17:58.12) and Joanie Castagno (18:03.70) rounded out the scoring efforts for the women’s team. Both set personal bests in a 5K race. Sunday Ford and Stephanie Buffo did not score, but both also recorded personal bests Saturday and were just seconds behind Castagno for the fifth and final scoring spot.
“We still have work to do, but we’re making progress,” said Gordon Thomson, distance coach at Clemson. “It was a pretty good showing by both teams. I was particularly pleased with leadership on the men’s side.”
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