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MOUNT OLIVE — A pair of freshmen led their respective Barton College cross-country teams Friday as the Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs opened their season at the University of Mount Olive Twilight.
Hailey Russell, a Jacksonville resident, placed ninth out of 31 runners in the women’s field to pace Barton. She finished the 6-kilometer course in 25 minutes, 18.5 seconds to help the Lady Bulldogs finish third out of four teams. Host Mount Olive, ranked 22nd nationally, had seven of the first eight runners across the finish line to win with 18 points, followed by UNC Pembroke with 49, Barton (78) and Chowan (108).
Finishing second for Barton was another freshman, Community Christian School product Morgan Lane, who was 16th overall in 26:16. Also scoring for the Lady Bulldogs were junior Meghan Araldi (18th, 27:14.4), freshman Taylynn Blunt (24th, 32:13.3) and redshirt junior Courtney Ricks (25th, 32:40.4).
The Barton men, who also finished third, were led by a pair of true freshman. Deshawn Owens, a C.B. Aycock High graduate, came across first for the Bulldogs on the 8K course, finishing 20th overall in 28:55.7 while classmate Timothy DeVore was 24th in 30:02.2. Redshirt freshman Nicholas Leek was 25th in 30:08.5. Also scoring for Barton were Alex Kelly (27th, 30:29.6) and Leslie Jones (30th, 33:54.2).
UNC Pembroke’s Silus Kipkoech and Logan Ward finished first and second, respectively, but Mount Olive, ranked No. 12 nationally, sent the next 11 runners across the line. The Trojans won their meet with 25 points, followed by UNCP (36), Barton (86) and Chowan (111).
Both Barton teams will be back in action Saturday at the Monarch XC Classic, hosted by Methodist University in Fayetteville.