The University of Miami cross country team began its 2022 season on Friday night by registering three top-10 finishes at the UCF Cross Country Invitational in Orlando, Fla.
The men took second place behind the University of Florida and the women placed third. The 5000m course was adjacent to the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) campus and featured three loops, each around a mile.
“This is our very first race of the season,” coach Cody Halsey said. “We have a lot of new people. So, the job was to get out there and see where we’re at and where we need to go from here.”
Six Hurricanes made their collegiate debut in Friday’s meet, which featured teams from Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, South Florida, Stetson, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Bethune-Cookman.
Austen Cannon paced the men by crossing the finish line in 15:46.6, good enough for third place. The sophomore from Pearland, Texas, is looking to build on his stellar 2021 season, where he was the top Miami finisher in four of the five races he ran.
“I knew Austen was ready for a big finish today,” Halsey said. “He’s doing really well. He had a great summer of training … We increased his mileage and I think he understands what [it] takes to run at this level, especially in the ACC.”
Along with Cannon, Justin Rittenhouse and Enrique Borrego finished in the top 15.
Sophomore Elle Mezzio led the women with a fourth-place finish in 18:37.6.
“We also increased [Mezzio’s] volume,” Halsey said. “I think it’s aligned with preparing for her to be a really high-level distance runner, so I was excited to see that finish from her today.”
Natalie Varela placed tenth and Bianca Banato finished in the top 15 to cap off a promising day in Orlando.
“Again, the first race is the first race. We focus on being positive, trying to beat as many people as possible, but we’re not going to let this make or break us,” Halsey said. “It’s September 2. We do have a lot of work to do. I’m excited about it and I think they’re really excited about it.”
Miami will next participate in the Virginia Invitational in Charlottesville, Va., on Sept. 16.