OMAHA -- The Creighton cross country program hosted the Creighton/UNO Invitational at Chili Greens in Omaha on Saturday. Creighton's women's team finished third in a six-team race that included Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa Western, Peru State and College of Saint Mary's. Nebraska-Omaha also had several women entered but did not field a full team. The Bluejay men finished fourth in a field that included Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa Western. Nebraska won both the men's and women's races.
"We saw some impressive things going on today," said second-year head coach Chas Davis. "The big thing that I told our runners beforehand was that this is a checkpoint, an opportunity to see where we're at, see where we need to go from here."
The 5,000-meter women's race started at 8 a.m., and Creighton's young squad was led by freshman Hannah Krumreich. In her first collegiate race, she finished seventh with a time of 19:48. Krumreich was the fastest of the four freshmen and two sophomores who made up the Jays' entry list on Saturday. Lara Crofford from Nebraska, with a time of 18:11, was the women's individual champion.
Creighton's next-best finisher was another freshman, Slaine Kelly. She crossed the line with a time of 19:54 which put her in 11th place. Freshman Meagan Wilderson came next for the Jays. She finished 22nd with a time of 20:40. "Veteran" sophomore Izzy Squires conquered the course in 21:36, a time that was good enough for 30th place. The last runner that contributed to the Jays' score was freshman Lauren Hintz who finished 35th with a time of 22:12. Creighton's final runner in the women's race was sophomore Elizabeth Timberlake. She finished 41st with a time of 22:55.
"For a lot of our women, this is their first (5,000-meter race)," said Davis. "They're used to running (4,000 meters) in high school. I was expecting us to look a lot more inexperienced than we did today, so it was impressive that this many of our freshmen had a smart race. They've got a ton of potential. It's really good to see our women running confident and running hard. I think it was a very good first step. We saw what we needed to see today on the women's side."
The men's race, which began immediately after the conclusion of the women's race at 8:45 a.m., was contested on an 8,000-meter course. The Jays were paced by a sixth-place finish from sophomore Chris Culhane, who took 27:15 to complete the course. Everyone was chasing Iowa Western's Isaiah Samoei whose time was 25:59.
The second Jays runner to cross the finish line was sophomore Mike Hitt. He finished 24th with a time of 29:18. Hitt had three teammates right behind him to round out Creighton's scoring: junior Evan Daugherty (29:31) finished 25th; sophomore Tom Shimp (29:37) finished 26th; and junior Joe Hamel (29:39) finished 27th.
Also entered in the race for the Jays were freshmen Ian Terayama (30th, 30:05) and Jason Pang (36th, 30:55), and senior Laim Dawson (40th, 32:17). The Jays were without several of their projected top runners for various reasons, including junior Casey Jergenson and freshman Bill Toohey who are both nursing minor injuries.
"On the men's side today, there was a bigger gap between our first and our third than we need," said Davis. "But that's going to be corrected here soon. Our three freshmen were running their first (8,000-meter race), and it was good to see some of our guys get out and run a smart race."
Creighton has two weeks to prepare for its next meet, the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Neb., on Sep. 18.
"We saw what we needed to work on," said Davis, "but for Sep. 4, we're very pleased with what we saw today -- some smart racing and good team support. I told them yesterday, more than anything, I want to see a team. The women were out supporting the men, the men were out supporting the women, and we've got a good team dynamic going. I'm very happy with the way we're kicking off this season."