Written by Kristen Janes, Staff Writer
Coming off their seventh, yes seventh, straight Southern Conference Cross Country Championship title, the men’s and women’s track teams are already starting an outstanding spring running season.
Seniors Gabbi Jennings and Savannah Carnahan led the women to a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship this past November, and have continued to dominate in short distance. Jennings, alongside teammates Emma Grace Hurley, Emma Kuntz and Abigail Robertson, knocked off the Paladin’s previous distance medley relay record by more than 10 seconds at the Vanderbilt Invitational, their first meet of the indoor season.
Men’s teammate Ryan Adams, reigning SoCon Cross Country Runner of the Year, was also a record-breaker, running a personal best and his first sub-4:00 mile time of 3:57.66 to break the previous team record. His performance landed him SoCon men’s Runner of the Week, and an invitation to run the 3,000 meter at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York City.
In New York, Adams’ placed second by just .34 seconds among a field of professionals, coming in at 7:49.45 to break the previous school record by 15 seconds. His time is the current fastest 3,000-meter in the NCAA. Teammate Aaron Wier also competed in New York, taking 15 seconds off his personal best, posting a time of 8:08.28 alongside Adams’ in the 3,000 meter. Adams’ second record-breaking weekend of the season earned him back-to-back SoCon Runner of the Week honors.
Continuing the season in Columbia this past weekend, multiple Paladins set records and posted new personal bests. Jennings was the overall winner of the mile and ran her personal best to break the Furman program record and the USC facility record. Her time of 4:39.97 is currently the ninth-fastest in the NCAA. Kuntz won the 800m to lead Furman to a strong last day of the Carolina Challenge, running a 2:11.81. Overall, Furman posted six top-five finishes.
For the men, junior Luke Meade led the Paladin men to multiple new personal records, running a 4:03.62 mile time to place second overall. Meade was one of five to place in the top 25 in the mile and post personal best times. On the second day, freshman Ares Reading placed second in the 5,000 meter at 14:35.51 to lead three other Furman runners to top 12 finishes.
Coming off two impressive opening meets, Furman Indoor Track looks towards the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem on Feb. 8 to mark the halfway point before Southern Conference Championships in late February.