Sitting their top six runners, the men’s cross country team scored 40 points but fell five points short of Purdue’s 35 Friday afternoon.
The women, on the other hand, ran away from the competition, scoring 19 to beat Butler by 44 points in the Indiana Intercollegiate in Bloomington.
Senior Andy Weatherford led the way for the men, finishing fifth overall on the 8K course in 25:03. Weatherford was one of four Hoosier men to place in the top 10.
The race was a bit of a letdown for the Hoosiers, but it wasn’t a failure, IU Coach Ron Helmer said.
“We put a team out there that could have won the race and probably should have won the race,” Helmer said. “Each one of them needs to learn how to do a better job of racing when the pressure is on.”
The Hoosiers ran near the front until midway through, when a trio of Boilermakers pulled away.
“I don’t think we were ready to race at that point and time,” Helmer said. “We just didn’t respond.”
They did have the chance to gain experience from the race, which was the biggest point of emphasis for the young Hoosiers, Helmer said.
“They’re still really inexperienced at this level,” he said. “This was a really good way to put them in a meaningful situation where they needed to run fast to give us a chance to win.”
Weatherford said the men weren’t happy with the results but are already turning the page and looking forward.
“We come out here to try and win races, and we didn’t get that done today, so it was a little bit of a disappointment,” he said. “You just kind of put this one behind you.”
The women’s team was more successful, placing six runners in the top 10.
Senior Chelsea Blanchard won the 5K women’s race in 17:35. Juniors Samantha Ginther (17:41) and Caitlin Engel (17:51) finished second and third, respectively.
“The girls stayed patient, and when it was time to move to the front, they were able to do that and win fairly convincingly,” Helmer said.
For Blanchard, it marked back-to-back years in which she has taken the crown at the Indiana Intercollegiate. Blanchard said she was happy with the win, but, like the men, she was ready to move on.
“It was great to win, but this is another step working toward Big Ten, regionals and, hopefully, nationals,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a meet.”