ROME, Ga. – Men's and Women's Cross Country began the 2012 season on a strong note at the Berry Invitational, held Saturday, Sept. 1, in Rome, Ga. Spencer Frantom and Kendra Sokol paced the regionally-ranked Tornado teams to a pair of fifth place team finishes.
Junior Spencer Frantom (Morristown, Tenn.) topped the men's team times after finishing 17th overall with a 27:18.95 time on the designated 8k course. Teammates Jordan Noe (Morristown, Tenn.) and Taylor Dix (Memphis, Tenn.) each posted top-30 times to help the Tornado place fifth out of 15 teams participating. Noe finished the course less than 30 seconds off the pace set by Frantom, crossing the line in 27:40.97 for 26th place. Dix finished just behind Noe (27:48.97), good for a 29th place finish.
High school national qualifier from John Battle High School, Brent Swiney (Bristol, Va.) posted a great start to his Tornado career. In his first race with the team, Swiney finished 33rd overall with a sub-28-minute time (27:53.27) to highlight the men's freshman class.
King finished fifth overall as a team with 128 points and had an average team finished time of 27:53.24.
Kendra Sokol (Kingsport, Tenn.) led the Lady Tornado team with an 11th place overall finish on the 6k course. The junior crossed the line at 24:11.13 placing herself in a mix of Mississippi State harriers and the top Division II runner.
Junior Evan Ferrell (Richlands, Va.) posted a top-20 time, finishing the course in 24:28.53. Junior Eliza Parker (Alfred, N.Y.) made a splash in her first race as a part of the team. The transfer from Spartanburg Methodist College assimilated well with the team, contributing the third-best Tornado time at 25:05.87, good for 35th overall.
Like the men, the Lady Tornado finished fifth in the team standings of the 14 teams participating, clocking in an average time of 25:10.99. King, ranked second in the Southeast Region, accomplished the feat and held off No. 3 Clayton State University without its top runner Hannah Witt, who did not participate in the Berry Invitational.
Of the performance, Head Coach Peter Dalton said, "This is a solid start for both teams. That being said, we still have a lot of work to do to reach our end goal. We will continue to train and work on some things to make us a better team for our next race and beyond."
Tornado Cross Country returns to action on Sept. 14 at the Mountaineer Open, hosted by Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.).