By: Greg Peterson, Sports Editor
No matter how many times you tell the classic fable, the tortoise will always beat the hare.
The Furman men’s and women’s cross country team’s have been creating their own impressive and record-setting storybook over the past five seasons; establishing an unparalleled dynasty and winning SoCon championships for each of those five seasons. On Friday, Nov. 10, the men’s and women’s program inked another chapter in their storied program with a historic showing at the 2017 Southeast Region Championship in Earlsville, Virginia.
Furman men’s and women’s cross country head coach Robert Gary was ecstatic about the results. “For the women to qualify for the first time in school history and the men to earn their first NCAA Regional title, it really was a tremendous day for the program,” Gary said.
The men’s team won the Southeast Regional title for the first time in the program’s history and qualified for the NCAA Championships. The Paladins placed first out of 32 teams, which included schools such as Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State.
Junior Aaron Templeton led the Paladins with a time of 29:05.4 on the 10K course and earned a spot of the all-region team with a fifth-place overall finish. Furman placed six student-athletes on the all-region team, which included senior Troy Reeder, who finished eighth and had a time of 29:25.2. Fellow seniors Tanner Hinkle and Josh Brickell, who finished in 12th and 13th place, also made all region with times of 29:33.0 and 29:33.1 respectively.
Both senior Frank Lara and sophomore Mason Coppi earned all-region honors, and finished 17th place and 25th place respectively. Rounding out the men’s team was junior Ryan Adams, who had a solid time of 30:01.6 and a 30th place finish.
The women’s team had a historic showing as well, finishing second overall out of 37 teams, which was the team’s best finish in program history. The women also qualified for the national championships, which was the first time in team history to do so. The Paladins were led by senior Allie Buchalski, who earned an all-region selection and finished second place with an impressive time of 20:10.4 on the 6K course.
Sophomore Gabrielle Jennings posted a spot in the top-ten, finishing in 10th place with a time of 20:34.2. Finishing a few seconds behind Jennings was fellow sophomore Savannah Carnahan, who posted a time of 20:37.1 and had an 11th place finish. Sophomore Emma Grace Hurley recorded a top-20 finish, finishing in 19th place with a strong time of 20:58.9. Jennings, Carnahan and Hurley joined Buchalski with earning all-region accolades.
With such great success, Gary can only reflect on how far the programs have come. “When we first started five years ago here at Furman we thought we could build a distance running powerhouse and I am very proud of our staff and student-athletes.”
The Paladins will look to continue to write their next chapter on this storybook season on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.