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Cross Country

Strong performances highlight Vegas opener

29 Th11 2021 | 09:13

LAS VEGAS — The Grand Canyon cross country team concluded its first meet of the season in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge on Monday morning. GCU’s strong performances were led by redshirt freshman Joseph Skoog on the men’s side and senior Ana Alvarez Tostado on the women’s side.

“I am very pleased with the performances from today,” Lopes head coach Sara Slattery said. “We had some great finishes from Joseph Skoog and Blake Bennett. Our men’s team was able to stay in a tight pack through the race, which was a big step in the right direction. Overall, it was fun for our team to get back to racing.”

The men’s team placed second in its four-team race against New Mexico, Utah Valley and Boise State with a total of 46 points, and beat Utah Valley for the first time in program history. Skoog and junior Blake Bennett finished in third and fifth place, respectively. Skoog ran the 8,000-meter race in a personal-best 24 minutes, 23 seconds, which was two seconds away from Daniel Flores‘ school record.

Bennett finished close behind at 24:24.4. Redshirt sophomore Jacob Lewis placed 11th, running 24:46.4, followed by freshman Cannon Angotti in 13th place running 24:53.1.

“We had a really good showing from our freshmen today,” Slattery said. “Angotti ran a very strong race, and (Braedon) Palmer, who was injured for most of the fall, displayed an impressive time. Landon Rast ran the best race I’ve seen from him yet. I was very happy with his performance, as well as Christian Fagerlin and Reier Gilbertson. The guys are very motivated and excited to run at conference in four weeks, so we will continue to improve and work hard.”

On the women’s side, Alvarez Tostado ran 6,000 meters in 22:45.1. She was the first to finish among the Lopes’ five women, as a large freshman group was unable to attend the meet because of COVID-19 protocols.

“This meet was good for our women to remember what racing feels like,” Slattery said. “It was a positive start, but there is a lot of room for improvement. We are taking it week by week and focusing on tightening our pack.”

The Lopes will get back to training for two weeks before they return to Las Vegas on Feb. 19.

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