The Georgia cross country teams traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to participate in the 45th annual Paul Short Run over the weekend and saw numerous improvements. The Lady Bulldogs finished second Saturday while the men’s team tied for 12th.
The Georgia women were led by junior Jessica Drop for the second meet in a row as she finished second overall in the 6k Gold race. The Georgia women finished above 39 other squads at the conclusion of the meet.
After scoring 368 points, the Georgia men finished 12th, tied with Cornell, to see a four point improvement from the 2017 Paul Short Run.
“It was a very productive day for the Georgia Bulldogs,” said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff. “I was really interested in how this meet would go and I think we responded well. I was happy to see our team pull together without Samantha Drop in the lineup. We beat a ranked Utah State team and other good groups and I think we are continuing to make progress.”
For the women’s team, Jessica Drop was the top finisher for the 11th time in her career. Drop finished third in the previous two meets hosted by Lehigh. Drop finished second with a time of 20:24.
Senior Grace Tavani saw great improvements from the 2017 Paul Short Run as finished 15th overall (21:06), a 28 spot difference from 2017. Following ten spots behind Tavani was junior Yanely Gomez, who finished 25th (21:15).
The final two finishers for the women’s team completed the course back to back. Senior Hailey Branch finished 42nd with a time of 21:39 while freshman Skylar English finished just behind branch at 43rd with a time of 21:39.
“Jessica Drop was outstanding, just as she was the last two times here,” said Cuniff. “The next three – Grace Tavani, Yanely Gomez and Hailey Branch – showed how strong they can be and I was pleased with their performances. I was also really excited with a freshman like Skylar English finishing where she did. She has been a huge difference for this team.”
In the men’s race, sophomore Michael Hans recorded a time of 24:49 to finish 17th, a 108 spot improvement from the 2017 Paul Short Run. True freshman Sam Bowers, racing for the first time for Georgia, finished 28th with a time of 24:57.
The third finisher for the Bulldogs, junior captain Jonathan Pelham finished 93rd (25:34) while redshirt sophomore Nate Reichard made his season debut to finish 114th (25:43). True freshman Tyler Fox also made his debut and finished 127th with a time of 25:47.
“The men did not exactly have the team finish that we wanted, but we did have some really strong individual finishes,” said Cuniff. “We have to work on tightening up that gap of scorers and finishers before we get to SECs and Regionals. Overall, I thought both teams were very solid and I was happy with the performances.”
Sophomore Millie Bergey was the top finisher of the three Lady Bulldogs in the Women’s Open 6k, taking 28th (22:51). Finishing behind Bergey was freshman Erika Plummer (71st -23:45) and Freshman Maddie Heller (79th-23:52).
Georgia will train until October 13t,h when they will split squads at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Berry Invitational in Rome, Georgia.