Sports

TWU Cross-country: Johnston, Benson finish third, fourth in season-opening race

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Trinity Western’s Blair Johnston and Fiona Benson led an impressive Spartans contingent at the University of Washington hosted Sundodger Open as they finished third and fourth respectively in the men’s and women’s events.

In the Spartans first cross country race of the season, which was held Sept. 15 at Seattle's Lincoln Park, Johnston finished the eight kilometre course in 25:07.73 as he crossed the finish line just over 13 seconds behind the winner from Western Washington, Chip Jackson, while Benson finished the women’s six kilometre route in 22:16.13 and was just under 27 seconds behind race winner Emily Thomas of Lewis & Clark.

Johnston improved upon his 16th place finish from last year and, on the same track, shaved more than 15 seconds off his time. Benson was similar to last year’s result as she finished third in 2011.

On the men’s side for the Spartans, following Johnston, it was Levi Neufeld finishing 31st in 25:47.39, Joel De Schiffart 42nd in 26.03.38, Chris Voth 87th in 26:38.80 and Mihai Prajea 120th in 27:09.96. Neufeld and De Schiffart were racing in their first ever university events.

The Spartans men finished eighth out of 22 teams competing. Last year, the Spartans finished 13th out of 21 teams competing.

“While Johnston’s performance is impressive, what’s more impressive is the density of our men’s team’s finish,” said Spartans coach Laurier Primeau.

“Overall we saw significant improvements for the athletes who ran the course last year and also had some very talented freshmen stepping up. We’re moving up in the right direction against NCAA competition.”

On the women’s side for Trinity Western, after Benson, it was Nicole Bell 115th in 24:43.19, Meg Harradine 128th in 24:50.85, Katelynn Ramage 206th in 28:18.70 and Rachelle Briscoe 209th in 29:44.39. Harradine and Briscoe were racing in their first ever university events.

The Spartans women, who were missing last year’s second place finisher Alison Jackson, who was competing in a triathlon in Buffalo, N.Y. this weekend, finished 17th out of 19 teams competing. Last year, they finished 10th out of 17 teams.

“We were once again happy with Fiona’s result as she looks in good form early on,” Primeau said. “The women’s team continues to develop and, although we didn’t have our full team there, it was a good first race for us.”

The Spartans next race will be at Crescent Park in South Surrey on Sept. 29.

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