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Cross-country teams finish fourth, fifth at McNichols Invitational

The Belmont University cross-country teams raced on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the University of Southern Indiana's John McNichols Invitational Saturday morning.

The race marked the Bruins second of the season, and the first freshman 8K on the men’s team.

The men’s side started its race at 8 a.m. and walked away with a fourth-place team finish. Individually, the top standout consisted of sophomore Kevin Vanderkolk, who finished in ninth-place to shatter his personal record by over seven seconds at 24:43.1.

Second for the Bruins was freshman Jack Zettl who came in 18th, finishing at 25:12.5.

The race was the first away meet of the season and followed the Belmont season opener.

The course for the invitational will be the same course as the Missouri Valley Conference Championship race, which coach Jeff Langdon believes will be good practice for the team.

“We knew going in there would be some powerhouse teams like Missouri, Illinois, and Toledo,” Langdon said. “We weren't really concerned about who we were racing against, that will come later. We just wanted to take care of our own business, and I feel like overall we did that. We'll put this one behind us, hopefully have a couple good weeks of training ahead of us and we'll head to Chili Pepper.”

Forty-five minutes after the men’s race, the women’s team took to the start line. Overall, they claimed a fifth-place team finish. The top finisher was sophomore Kaitlyn Vanderkolk, who came in 16th with a time of 18:08.4. Crossing the line shortly after was senior Katie Flaherty who landed 17th with a time of 18:09.3.

"Overall, I'm really happy with how the girls performed today, obviously it was a good showing from Katie and Kaitlyn, seeing those two really close together at the finish was a good sign," Coach Kate Bucknam, said. "Our goal was to be top five, and we did that. We wanted to go out there and mix it up with some bigger schools like Mizzou and Purdue, and we weren't far off of them. It was a great confidence builder today and we'll keep working off that.”

PHOTO Sophomore Kevin Vanderkolk finished with a new personal best 8k on Saturday. The Brentwood, Tennessee-native finished ninth overall, finishing in 24:43.1; Photo Courtesy of Belmont Athletics.

This article was written by Rachel Finan.

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