Cross country finishes fifth at Penn State Open

Maria Cowley

The Longhorns showed up to a frosty blue and white golf course Friday ready to run at the Penn State Open. 

Both the men and women pulled off top-5 finishes in University Park, Pennsylvania, improving from finishes outside the top 10 at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30.

“Today was much improved from Notre Dame for both the men and women,” coach Brad Herbster said. “This was a step in the right direction, but we need to continue to improve to be ready for the Big 12.” 

Senior Sandie Raines led the women with one of her best performances of the season despite missing the Notre Dame Invitational last month due to pneumonia. She got out early and placed sixth in the 6,000-meter race, clocking in at 20:28.1.

The Big 12 title holder in track and field said her skills are finally translating to cross country this season.

“I’ve never been competitive in cross country,” Raines said. “So I think my goal is to put myself out there and not give up. It’s a lot different from track, it’s way harder so I think my goal is to feel good about what I do.”

Raines’ strong effort paved the way for the women’s fifth place finish. Though the team placed behind four ranked opponents, their impressive showing knocked two teams from the polls. 

“Sandie had a solid performance,” Herbster said. “As a unit we probably got out a little quick on a course full of hills, but I liked the fight our women had.”

For the men, senior Robert Uhr and sophomore Alex Rogers established themselves as the early leaders of the 5.2-mile run. The pair led the field by 10 meters for the majority of the race, until a pack of runners started to close the gap. 

“Alex and Robert were leading the race by 10 meters at the 3-mile mark and then faded on the hills, but their fight and grit was impressive,” Herbster said. 

Uhr finished No. 19  with a time of 25:29.4. Rogers, who had hoped to earn a top-5 finish, crossed the line with a time of 25:34.7 to finish No. 27.

The Longhorns hit the courses again on Saturday, Oct. 29, for the Big 12 Championship in Lubbock.