CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - The UNCW women finished 16th and the men came in 19th place at the UNC Charlotte Cross Country Invitational late Friday at McAlpine Park in the Queen City.
The Seahawk harriers, making their fourth appearance of the fall season, competed against 44 women's teams and 41 men's opponents at racer-friendly McAlpine Park, site of the NCAA Southeast Regionals in six weeks.
Junior Ashley Wybersky was the top finisher for the UNCW women, taking 45th place out of 233 runners with a time of 22:53 on the 6K course. Sophomore Ryan O'Connor led the Seahawk men for the first time this season by clocking a 26:17 over 8K, good enough for 78th out of 244 entries.
Wake Forest's Nicole Irving won the women's race with a time of 20:59, while UNC Pembroke's Pardon Ndhlovu won the men's race at 24:20.
"It was not what we were hoping for, but not bad either," said Layne Schwier, assistant cross country/track and field coach. "We've got a few key runners sick and struggling. We also had a few runners really step up on both sides.
"Ashley (Wybersky) ran a great race for us today and Haley (kapheim) and Kim (Black) came through. The women just haven't fired on all cylinders yet. Once we can get them all to race well on the same day, we'll move up a lot. The weather was hot today. It was 85 at the start of the women's race and there were runners dropping out left and right. It was a tough day to run fast on a fast course.
"The men were sucked out fast by the strong competition, perhaps overconfident, and it came back to haunt a few of them later. Ryan (O'Connor) finally put out a solid effort to lead us today. We've been waiting for that. Casey (Buddenbaum) was solid as well. Cole Vaughn actually ran third best for us today from the B race.
"We still have several weeks of hard training ahead of us and the conference meet is still a month away. Then, we'll be back for another shot at this course in six weeks."
The Seahawks take next weekend off before continuing their fall slate Oct. 12 at the Blue Ridge Mountain Open in Boone, N.C.