Cross Country: Eastern men get top five finish at Evansville invite

Monday, October 20 2008 - Evansville Invite

By: Brandy Provaznik/Staff Reporter

Posted: 10/20/08

Eastern men's and women's cross country head coach Geoff Masanet said the Panthers ran their best race of the season in their last preparatory meet before the Ohio Valley Conference Championships at the Evansville Invite on Friday in Evansville, Ind.

"Both the guys and the gals ran well," Masanet said. "We haven't really performed to our potential up to this point, so it was nice to run well for a change."

The Eastern men's team finished in fifth place out of 22 teams in the 8,000-meter race, and Eastern's women's team finished ninth out of 19 teams in the 5,000-meter race.

Senior Brad Butler was Eastern's top finisher, placing 17th overall in the men's race with a time of 25 minutes, 11.99 seconds. Sophomore Derek Ericson and junior Mario Casterjon were the next Panthers across the finish line in 27th and 36th place, respectively.

Junior Erin O'Grady placed first for the Panthers and 34th overall in the women's race with a time of 18:55.29. O'Grady was followed by freshman Brittany Arthur and sophomore Caitlin Napoleoni in 38th and 53rd.

Masanet said he was impressed with how well the women ran in a pack - with their top five finishers only 34 seconds apart.

"That is great whenever you can close that gap as much as possible," Masanet said. "Keeping the gap under a minute is good, and for it to only be 34 seconds is wonderful. Hopefully we can do that again at conference."

Masanet said while the Panthers collectively ran their best race of the season, this meet also helped raise a lot of questions going into the conference meet.

"While some guys did really well, some of our key guys just aren't racing very strongly," Masanet said. "There is a lot of question marks right now, we have 11 or so guys to choose from and only eight spots to fill on the conference roster."

The Eastern men finished ahead of four OVC schools: Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee Martin and Murray State. The women's team finished ahead of Austin Peay and Tennessee Martin but just behind Tennessee Tech and Murray State.

"Tennessee Tech, on the girls side was a little bit better than we expected," Masanet said. "We are definitely going to have to worry about them a little bit more around Conference time."

The Panthers have two weeks to get ready for the conference meet, which will be held at Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Nov. 1.

"Today was really encouraging and should give us some more confidence going into OVC's," Masanet said. "We still have some work to do. I believe our best races are still ahead of us."

Brandy Provaznik can be reached at 581-7944 or at

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