By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
The 2015 men’s and women’s cross country seasons commenced bright and early Saturday morning at Schenley Park for the annual Duquesne Duals meet. Both sides had runners finish in the top ten in each of their respective races.
The women’s side looked extremely impressive as the team took four of the top six slots in a field of 100 runners. Senior Jenna Gigliotta took first place with a time of 18:33:00 edging out Pitt’s Gillian Schriever by just over a second.
Redshirt junior Autumn Greba finished sixth in the race. She was very happy with all of her teammates’ performances, including Gigliotta’s.
“As a whole, our team opened up well at the Duals,’” Greba said. “We each had our game plans and the majority of people stuck to that. We had a lot of great individual performances, especially from [Gigliotta] who went out and won it this year. A lot of us packed together well and it showed in how close a lot of people finished in the end.”
The women’s team is coming off their second-straight Atlantic-10 championship, and according to the A-10’s season preview, the Dukes are expected to win it again. According to Greba, winning for a third year in a row is a top priority this year.
“In the A-10 season preview, our team was voted most likely to win the championship. That would be a three-peat for us, and we are really focused on that as a team. We also want to improve upon our previous regional appearances, and do even better there. We took seventh in the region out of over 30 teams last year, and it’s a team goal to do better this year even though that’s pretty good and of itself.”
The men’s side wasn’t able to capture the top spot in their respective race, which included a field of 95 runners. They did, however, take six of the top 11 spots. Senior Aaron Wilkinson took second in the race with a time of 26:11:07. He lost out to Temple’s Stephen Listabarth, who finished two seconds faster. Like Greba, Wilkinson was also very impressed with the way his team performed.
“I thought everyone ran great for a season opener,” Wilkinson said. “The course at Schenley Park is a really difficult one and it was a hot day. Despite this, everyone ran very tough and proved what they are really capable of.”
The Dukes will return to action a week from Saturday to compete in the National Catholic Invitational at Notre Dame. Both the men and the women squads will return to Schenley Park Oct. 17 for the Carnegie Mellon Invitational.