The East Carolina women’s cross country team won the ECU Pirate Invitational with a perfect score over Norfolk State and Wake Tech Friday, with the men finishing second to Norfolk State.
Sophomore Grace Sullivan, the highest placing Pirate for the last two races, won the women’s 5K race with a time of 18:15.06, as her teammate, sophomore Victoria Cooke, took second with a time of 18:54.30.
The Pirates also took third through seventh place, giving the team a perfect cross country score of 15 — 35 points better than second place Norfolk State.
Felix Kiprotich of Norfolk State took first place in the men’s race, running the 5K in 15:18.60. His teammate, Ronald Korir, took second place after finishing the course five seconds after Kiprotich.
Senior Jorge Montes, the highest finishing Pirate in the men’s race, came in third with a time of 15:29.76. He was closely followed by sophomore Nick Ciaccia, who ran the course in 15:34.83, as the Pirates finished 10 points behind the Spartans.
“One of the things we were focusing on going into this meet was packing things up, closing the gap between our top five, top 10 runners,” ECU assistant coach Brie Berkowitz said. “We take each practice day-by-day and each practice I always tell them ‘Let’s focus, stay in the present, focus on today.’ If we focus on getting better each and every day, then that will bring us to our ultimate goals.”
The Pirates seem to enjoy running at Overton’s Lake Kristi in nearby Grimesland, North Carolina. The women’s team has won every ECU Pirate Invitational since 2009.
“It feels good to be able to have parents, teachers, and other student-athletes and students come out and watch you do the sport you love and you’ve been working hard for,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan, a Charlotte native, added that she briefly thought about going for her personal 5K record of 18:09.29, set at last year’s ECU Pirate Invitational, but figured she’ll save it for another event.
Montes on the other hand, who holds the school record in the 5K at 14:58.19, set high goals for himself this year.
“I have been all-conference the last two conference championships, but now I’m trying to get in the top five, top six because I’m really close to that,” the Tijuana, Mexico native said. “I want more people to be all-conference with me. This year is the most athletic team ever in ECU’s history.”
The next meet for the men’s and women’s teams is the Paul Short Invitational, held at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 1. The Pirates turned in 13 personal-best times in wet and cold conditions at last year’s Paul Short Invitational.
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