Notre Dame, Ind. –The Clemson cross country teams put on an exemplary performance at the Joe Piane-Notre Dame Invitational Friday afternoon, with the women finishing third and men finishing 11th against some of the best teams in the country in the Gold Division races. A total of 14 Tigers logged personal best performances at the meet.
Logan Morris was the class of the field over the women’s five-kilometer distance, showcasing savvy race tactics and unleashing a furious final kilometer to secure her first collegiate cross country victory. Morris was engaged in a tight battle throughout the opening stages of the race, but the junior broke away to cross the line six seconds ahead of her closest competitor.
“Logan finished so strong today,” said Head Coach Vicky Pounds. “She went out conservative and worked her way to the lead. She was engaged in a battle at the top with others and executed a really strong race.”
The rest of the women’s team ran well as a group, scoring 153 points to finish less than 20 points behind Miami (Ohio). Following Morris, the next five Tigers to cross the line did so with only nineteen competitors separating them, a testament to the strong pack which Pounds has developed within the women’s squad. Nine of the 12 ladies to take to the course for Clemson finished with a personal best performance credited to their name.
Coach Pounds reflected on the women’s performance by saying, “The girls responded to each other’s moves and worked well together. For our main pack to stay intact, it was a really good showing.”
The men’s team was led by junior John Ward, with Ward crossing the line in 31st place, followed closely by Colt Griffith. The two proved to be vital low-stick scorers for the Tigers, as the men used meticulous mid-race moves to assert themselves amongst their competitors. Jackson Leech continued a phenomenal freshman campaign, being the fourth Tiger to cross the line on the day, competing in his first race above the eight-kilometer distance.
“I was impressed by the men’s performance today,” said Pounds. “It was great to see Colt [Griffith] up there with John. Our team did a great job of staying alert and competing during the middle of the race.”
The team now looks ahead to their final weekend of competition before taking to the ACC championships. A trip to either the VertCross Invitational or Pre-Nationals awaits the team in two weeks, with select individuals from the men’s and women’s team traveling to each race.