Cross country teams place in top five at AAC Championship

The men finished in third place, while the women finished in fourth place.

Temple University’s men’s and women’s cross country both finished in the top five at The American Athletic Conference championships on Saturday. The men’s team finished third out of ten teams, while the women’s team finished fourth out of 10. 

Competing in the conference championship this early in the season is not normal, but it was necessary because the schedule was changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said James Snyder, head coach of the men’s and women’s teams.

“For us, all these kids do is cross country all seasons, so condensing the season into just the spring presents more unique challenges for us than it would for other sports,” Snyder said.

The women’s cross country team just missed out on a podium spot to first-place Tulsa, second-place Wichita State and third-place Cincinnati. 

Two Owls runners took home individual awards. Senior Michelle Joyce and freshman Léa Kerbiriou earned All-Conference team honors, both finishing within the top 15 with Joyce in ninth and Kerbiriou in 10th. Joyce’s final time was 21:41.46 while Kerbiriou’s final time was 21:50.97.

Joyce became the first women’s runner to earn All-Conference honors three times, and Kerbiriou was the first freshman in Temple’s history to finish in the top 10 on both the men’s and women’s side at a conference meet. 

Sophomore Cat Shontz finished 21st, while senior Helene Gottlieb finished in 30th place. 

Temple men’s cross country had the advantage of racing at the JK Gold Classic in Augusta, Kansas, two weeks ago to prepare for this event.

The men’s team lost to first-place Tulsa and second-place Cincinnati. Senior Kristian Jensen finished eighth with a time of 24:41.60, securing a spot in the top 15, and was named to the All-Conference team.

Freshman Christian Fitch finished in 18th place with a time of 25:06.06., while freshman Erik Kain finished in 20th place with a time of 25:07.53.

“Coming in, our goal was to try to slide into that three spot, we were out here two weeks ago and got beat by Wichita State and Cincinnati,” Snyder said. “This gives me confidence moving forward that we’re going to be able to chip away and close that gap on a team like Cincinnati or Tulsa.”

While the men’s cross country team is slated to compete against Florida State University on March 5, the women’s cross country team competed in their last cross country event of the season and will now switch to indoor track, Snyder said.

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