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Furman dominates SoCon championships; ETSU men finish second

Jeff Birchfield • Nov 2, 2019 at 4:10 PM

Furman was up to the challenge Saturday morning at the Southern Conference cross country championships at Pine Oaks Golf Course.

The Paladins earned their seventh consecutive men’s and women’s team titles over a course which many of the runners described as challenging.

Furman sophomore Ryan Adams finished at 24:40, nearly 18 seconds ahead of teammate Daniel Bernal, to lead the Paladins to a 21-56 win over host East Tennessee State with a winning time of 24:40 over an 8,000-meter run. The Paladins took four of the top five and five of the top nine spots.

“It was a great course. You have to be tough as nails to run all these hills with a lot of tight turns,” Adams said. “Working those hills, working those turns, it’s not an easy thing to do against competition like this. You can’t take anything for granted or lightly. Pride comes before the fall is what they say, and I was determined not to fall.”

ETSU junior Ben Varghese broke up the Paladin party with a third-place finish at 25:10. The Bucs placed five in the top 16 and all seven male runners in the top 19. Varghese, a former Daniel Boone High School standout, hung with the two Furman runners over the first lap before dropping back a few spots in the middle of the race and charging back to third.

“It was a beautiful course, but she will test you on the mental and physical side," Varghese said. “I hope we can have more races out here, host more and make it a home course. We had so many fans, so many alumni who came out here to watch us and I’m so thankful for that.”

Adam Bradtmuller (eighth) at 25:37 and Noah Charles (14th) at 26:19 also earned all-conference honors for the Bucs. Josh Routh (15th) at 26:24 and Josh Krafsur (16th) at 26:26 rounded out the ETSU scoring. The Bucs also had top-20 finishes from Soresa Gemechu (18th) at 26:41 and Matthew Scarr (19th) at 26:43. Seth Bowden was named to the all-freshman team with a 25th-place run.

More than just performance, ETSU measured its success in hosting a conference meet for the first time since 1968. 

“Our coaches, alum and other people worked so hard to get this set up,” ETSU coach George Watts said. “It looked good and it was a perfect day to run. It was a challenging course, but I’m a little old-school and I like the hills. I’m glad that no one had a complaint. They said it was tough, but it was a great race for the men and women. We hope to do it again.”

WOMEN TEST COURSE FIRST

Wofford junior Hannah Steelman ran 17:02 over 5,000 meters to beat Furman senior Gabrielle Jennings by three seconds in the women’s individual race. The duo ran together throughout the duration of the race.

“It’s never a given when Furman is in the picture,” Steelman said. “I love racing against those girls because they make very challenging and make you work for it. I’m honored to race against them the last three years.”

Furman dominated the team standings, taking second through sixth places to win 20-86 over Samford. The Lady Paladins had seven of the top nine spots. ETSU finished fourth in the team standings with 115 points.

Heather Feuchtenberger was the highest ranked ETSU female, finishing 17th at 19:08. Shila Kapaya (21st), Genevieve Schwarz (27th), Makayla Shaw (28th) and all-freshman runner Lindsay Holliday (32nd) rounded out the Bucs’ scoring.

“We worked out here where it was our home course, so we know the course, but didn’t make it any easier,” Feuchtenberger said. “We had alumni, family and friends screaming our name and that was what was most important. We have a lot of love for each other. Lindsay, my roommate, says, ‘There’s a lot of people out there, but there’s not a lot of teams.’ That was something we differentiate ourselves with, where we’re a team.”

LOCAL RUNNERS COME HOME

Samford freshman Jeb Jones, a Science Hill alum, made the men’s all-freshman team with a 17th-place run at 26:34. On the women’s side, Chattanooga junior Sophia Neglia, finished 35th at 19:51. Citadel junior Casey Miller, a Science Hill alum, was 60th at 20:47.

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