GREENSBURG, Pa. – Five St. Bonaventure men's cross country runners finished in the top eight scoring positions at the Seton Hill Griffin Classic, capturing the team's first invitational victory in over ten years.
The Bonnies scored 26 points, finishing ahead of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (54 points), Seton Hill (64 points) and Franciscan University (88 points). The Brown and White conquered the extremely hilly course, placing eight runners in the top 17 runners. Indiana (PA) senior Clint Keller won with a time of 28:50.4.
With Saturday's win, both the men's and women's teams won an invitational for the first time in the same season. Head coach Bob Macfarlane said Saturday's win is a culmination of the growth of the men's program in the last three years.
"This is an excellent day and I'm very proud of what they did," Macfarlane said. "Our goal all along is to go into meets where we are competitive. This is the second week in a row where we came in competitive."
Junior Harley Thompson led Bona's, crossing the line in fourth place overall with a time of 29:36.6. Thompson scored two points for SBU because the runners in second and third places were unattached.
Thompson knew he would perform better on an 8k course than the 5k course at the Little Three Invitational. Thompson credited hill training around his native St. Mary's, Pa., home to being prepared for the monstrous hills on Seton Hill's course.
"It was a good confidence booster coming off of last week," Thompson said. "I knew that once I got to the 8k, I could step up my game and do better than last week."
Junior Nick Masiello finished in fifth place overall with a time of 29:45.7. Sophomore Joe Ferencik (30:12.1), freshman Ben Collins (30:30.8) and sophomore Kevin Sidoran (30:36.6) earned top ten overall places, finishing in eighth, ninth and tenth places overall.
Junior Steven Kibbe (31:31.9), sophomore Nick Konotopskyj (31:37.9) and senior Chris Spiker (31:39.8) finished eight seconds apart in 15th, 16th and 17th places overall. Sophomore Caleb Lecker (32:04.0) and junior Dan Myers (32:30.7) rounded out the Bonaventure top ten, crossing the line in 21st and 25th places.
Senior captain Terence Petty (32:36.8) finished in 26th place, racing in his first 8k since the 2011 Atlantic 10 championships. Juniors Nick Taylor (33:04.1) and Matt Trifoso (33:04.2) finished together in 28th and 29th places. Senior Peter Eller (38:27.9) finished in 40th place in his first 8k since the 2011 Little Three Invitational.
Coach Macfarlane said he knew the Seton Hill course would not produce personal records for the runners, as most runners finished at least two minutes slower than their expected times. However, he was satisfied with the mental toughness shown by the Bonnies.
"In all my years of coaching cross country, this is probably one of the three toughest courses I've seen," Macfarlane said. "(The course) mentally challenged them and I saw the men rose to the occasion and did what they needed to do."
The Bonnies will have a week off before traveling to the University of Notre Dame for the National Catholic Championships on Sept. 20. The varsity race will start at 5 p.m. and the sub-varsity race will start at 3:30 p.m.