By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was a historic showing in Nashville for the Tennessee Tech cross country teams Saturday morning, as the Golden Eagles produced a pair of top-three showings at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships.
The Tech women delivered a runner-up finish while competing in the 5K at Vaughn's Creek Cross Country Course at Percy Warner Park, the top performance in program history. On the men's side, the Golden Eagles tied the program's top finish since 1967, tying for the second-highest with a third-place showing in the 8K.
The Golden Eagle women's team put together 48 points, finishing just 12 back of top-finishing Belmont and 12 points ahead of Eastern Illinois. The second-place showing by the purple and gold bested the previous program record of a third-place finish back in 1995.
Pacing the purple and gold with a time of 18:19.0 was Helen Pacurariu-Nagy, taking her turn leading the Golden Eagles for the second time this season. The sophomore clocked in with the third-best time in the field, becoming just the third Tech runner to finish third overall at the OVC Championships.
The transfer from CBU collected All-OVC First Team honors for her performance, and was joined by returning freshman Amanda Laboy. The Franklin, Tenn. native raced to a time of 18:25.9, placing seventh overall.
Not far behind, Rahab Sawe took 10th place in the field after turning in a time of 18:43.8. Just two spots back of Sawe was the OVC Female Freshman of the Year, Ruby Wyles, who ranked 12th after finishing with a time of 18:48.3. Both Sawe and Wyles earned All-OVC Second Team accolades for their performances.
Rounding out the scoring for the purple and gold on the women's side was Tina Cesnik, completing the course at 19:03.8 to finish 16th overall. The junior joined Sawe and Wyles in rallying strong to help propel the Tech squad up the rankings and into the second-place finish.
The men's third-place finish tied for the program's showings in 1962, 1965, 1966, and 2018, and just missed the top performance of second place back in 1967, with the Golden Eagles accounting for 88 points to edge UT Martin.
Sophomore Dominic Smith was the lead runner for the Tech men, returning to action after missing the team's last meet to finish 10th overall. The Swansea, Wales native clocked in at 25:23.2, locking down an All-OVC Second Team honor.
Joining him on the All-OVC Second Team with a 13th-place performance was Miceal McCaul. The league's Male Freshman of the Year posted a final time of 25:28.9. Competing in the final conference meet of his career, senior Ababu Mohamed left it all out on the line, finishing 16th with a time of 25:48.4.
Fighting for a strong finish were returning freshmen Chase Faudi and Clayton Kirkus, each delivering late pushes to help lift the Golden Eagles to third place. Faudi finalized his day with a top-20 finish, rocking a time of 25:55.6 while Kirkus ranked 31st with a final time of 26:22.5.
"I am so incredibly proud of all of our student-athletes," Tech head coach Peter Dalton expressed. "Everyone did their part today and really just filled me with pride as their coach. Competing in sloppy and wet conditions, each of them produced not for themselves, but for the team.
"Most of our athletes will return for next season and I could not be more excited to see where they take our programs next. We are only going to get bigger and better for next year when we host the OVC Championships."
Photos by TTU Track & Field