Indiana cross country finished 14th in the men’s race and 17th in the women’s race of the Joe Piane Invitational in South Bend, Indiana, on Friday.
Senior Sarah Schmitt led the way for the women’s team in her first race of the season, finishing 62nd overall with a time of 17:10.7 in the 5K race.
Senior Arjun Jha was the top Indiana runner in the men’s 5-mile race. He ran a time of 23:57.6 to finish 18th in his first race of the season.
“We were all the way from really ordinary to not very good at all, and that’s not what we see day-in and day-out at practice,” head coach Ron Helmer said.
Helmer said the team as a whole did not perform well and it led to disappointing results for the day. He took blame for the team’s performance and said it wouldn’t happen again.
“That’s on me,” Helmer said. “I thought we could squeeze some more work in and still go race like that at a high-level and manage it but, across the board, we just couldn’t.”
Sophomore Mariah Wehrle finished 63rd as the second runner across the line for the Indiana women.
“(Wehrle) didn’t get out real well but she just kept climbing and climbing,” Helmer said. “For somebody in her first race at that level, I thought she did a really really nice job.”
Wehrle was followed by senior Hannah Stoffel at 92nd. Stoffel made her season debut in the race, running a time of 17:25.1. Senior Maddie Dalton finished 106th, junior Mikaela Ramirez finished 123rd and senior Ana Barrott finished 148th to round out the scoring runners for the Hoosier women.
Jha said he was excited to run in his first race under normal circumstances in two years.
“It was a whole lot of excitement, I wasn’t too nervous about it,” Jha said. “This is my fourth year now, so I’ve had quite a few races under my legs and I know the drill.”
Senior Ben Veatch also made his season debut, finishing 40th. The other scoring runners for Indiana were sophomore Gabriel Sanchez, senior Skylar Stidam and junior Austin Haskett, who finished 77th, 83rd and 107th respectively.
No. 1 North Carolina State University placed first among the 25 teams in the women’s race. Indiana, who came into the race ranked No. 21, was one of twelve ranked teams competing in the meet.
No. 19 Furman University placed first out of the 23 teams who competed in the men’s race. Furman beat No. 2 Notre Dame University, No. 26 Indiana and seven other ranked teams to secure the victory.
Indiana men’s and women’s cross country next compete in Madison, Wisconsin, at the Nuttycombe Invitational on Oct. 15.