ORLANDO, Fla. - The NC Wesleyan College men's cross country team finished 6th out of 12 teams at the 23rd annual Disney Classic at the Wide World of Sports Complex on Saturday. The men beat two D-2 schools and one D-1 school, The Citadel, in the event as well.
"This was a return trip for the 2018 runners, but a new experience for the 2019 recruiting class," said head coach Marshall Leonard. "Many of the athletes had never traveled to Florida and been on ESPN.com, and were excited about being part of something so unique and huge."
On Saturday morning the men races first in the Scar Division at 7:40am against 133 talented D1, D2, and D3 teams that have traveled from all over the country. The men started off strong and finished with multiple runners running their personal best times.
Junior Christian Tippette and sophomore Connor Hayes led the Bishops as they placed 18th and 19th overall in 27:47 and 27:48 respectively. Junior Andrew Bowen then came next in 31st place as he ran the 8K in 28:20. Sophomore Terenthen Parker then came in 4th on the team and 44th overall with a time of 28:58. Freshman Philly Barungi finished up the scoring for the Bishops placing 47th overall in 29:06.
But what happened next behind those guys was an explosion of personal best times with the other Bishops competing but not scoring were sophomore Maleik Small in 55th place running a personal-best time of 29:26 and sophomore Keyonte Williams coming in right behind him in 57th with another personal best in 29:38. Freshman Mamoon Hassan then finished in 60th in 29:50 with the other personal best time.
"Having those guys show up and perform the way they did has added depth to our team," said Leonard. "We still have 3 more runners that have a possibility to run under 30 minutes, and that would be a huge achievement to have every member of the team to run under 30 minutes for an 8K (just shy of 5 miles)."
D1 Youngstown St. won the event while rival Methodist finished 4th.
Wesleyan's next meet they will be racing mostly D1 teams with one other D3 team in Methodist at the ECU Invitational next Friday at 5 PM. "To go to this meet you have to be invited, and it is an honor to be one of the teams competing against the likes of ECU, Duke, and NC State. It gives us a chance to compete against some ACC schools and see how we stack up." said Leonard.