The Men and Women’s Cross Country teams placed third in the NCAA South/Southeast Regional meet in Mount Berry, G.A on Nov. 15. 

While overall the teams finished in third place several runners stole the spotlight by earning an invitation to to the National meet on Nov. 22 in Mason, O.H. 

For the Men’s team, junior Victor Pataky will continue on after winning third place on the 8K course out of the 200 other runners. 

For the Women’s team, sophomore Serena Gale-Butto and senior Ashley El Rady have been invited to compete in the National meet. 

Gale-Butto completed the 6K course in about 22 minutes and 21 seconds to finish fifth overall. El Rady finished sixth with a time of 23 minutes and 16 seconds. 

All three individuals worked hard to earn these coveted spots, and plan to continue working hard for the National meet. 

“I have made three goals,” Pataky said. “The first is to break our 8K school record, weather and conditions permitting. The second is to be in the top 50. And my last, is to be in the top 35, which would give me All-American honors.”

Gale-Butto said, “For the NCAA I have a few goals. When we raced on the course in Mason, O.H. for the pre-national competition, I could tell it was one of the fastest courses I’ve ever run on. I’m hoping to [set a personal record] on the course, and gain experience racing at the National level.”

During the Regional meet, the Women’s team earned a total of 125 points with seniors Hannah Ellis, Cristin Palmer, and Emily Akin completing their runs in impressive times. 

Additionally for the Men’s team, the group earned 110 points with seniors Eric Beyerle, Josh Rieskamp, and Matthew McCurdy and junior Glen Bortolus leading the team. 

For many of the players, the teams’ successes can be credited to the coaches and the group’s sense of unity. 

“Coach Owens is one of the best goal-setters there is. She never settles for ‘good enough,’ and wants to help everyone to reach their full potential,”  Gale-Butto said. “Coach Hagans is the best person to go to for strategy and split analysis. Together they make a great coaching team.”

Pataky echoed Gale-Butto sentiments and also heavily credited his teammates.

 “Coach Owens is a key factor in making me a better runner, teammate, and person. She is a great mentor who is willing to give advice on anything,” Pataky said. “The team is also a huge factor in making me a successful runner. Without them, I wouldn’t have much purpose for running.”

Although for many the season ended too soon, overall the team feels a sense of pride over their accomplishments. 

“I felt great about this season. This is the best team I’ve ever raced with, and it’s been a privilege to have one last season with the senior girls on the team. They’re great teammates, mentors, and friends,” Gale-Butto said.

Pataky agreed with Gale-Butto and said, “In terms of how the team did, I think it was a good season. Although it ended sooner than we wanted it to, I feel like we overcame obstacles in each meet we went to. That really showed how gutsy and scrappy this team was,” Pataky said. 

“I chose to run cross country because of the great team atmosphere we have. It’s so fun and invigorating to be a part of this team. We are all like a family.” ​

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