The East Carolina men’s and women’s cross country teams placed seventh and 11th out of 11 teams, respectively, in the American Athletic Conference Championships in Cincinnati Saturday at Voice of America Park.

Going into the championships, both the men and women were expecting to be able to finish in the top 3 in the conference. On the women’s side, a key injury to its top runner Grace Sullivan hindered the chances of accomplishing the goal.

“On the women’s side, we got a little banged up,” ECU assistant coach Josey Weaver said. “Grace Sullivan, our top runner, her body kind of gave out on her. We didn’t know if she could make it through. Through toughness she fought through injury.”

Sullivan’s injury opened the door for fellow sophomore Victoria Cooke, who finished 36th with a time of 22:18.9. Although hobbled, Sullivan finished in 48th with a time of 22:40.6.

“After the injury to Grace Sullivan, Victoria Cooke became our top runner and really ran well. I’m proud of the way both of them ran today,” Weaver said.

On the men’s side, junior Jorge Montes earned his third-straight All-American Conference honor, as he finished in the top 15. He finished in 12th with a time of 25:06.6. Fellow junior Pol Solanelles finished just outside of the top 15 and all-conference honors, as he finished in 20th with a time of 25:36.4.

“On the men’s side, Jorge [Montes] and Pol [Solanelles] really ran well for us,” Weaver said. “Although our teams didn’t finish the way we wanted them to, I’m proud of the way we ran today.”

Though the finish was admittedly disappointing to Weaver and the team, the Pirates boast a plethora of young talent that should help them moving forward.

“We’re a real young team, with a lot of talent,” said Weaver. “I’m excited to continue to work with the young talent during the rest of the season, as well as implement my training program later on in the offseason.”

The ECU cross country teams will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 5 in Cary, North Carolina in the Three Stripe Invitational.

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