COLUMBIA -- The University of South Carolina Beaufort cross country teams opened their season Friday night by taking on some of the top competition from South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina in the Carolina Challenge at Fort Jackson.
The Sand Shark women finished eighth among 11 teams, placing ahead of three NCAA Division I programs. Junior Melissa Carder led the way with a 5-kilometer time of 19 minutes, 59.06 seconds, good for 23rd place. Newcomer Joyce Miller was 42nd in 20:58.05, with freshman Jaime Thomas close behind in 44th with a time of 21:02.75.
USCB entered only four runners in the men's race, so the Sand Sharks did not post a team score. Junior Anthony Vecchio, USCB's lone returning national qualifier on the men's side, paced the Sand Sharks with a 21st-place time of 16:39.94, but freshman Nic O'Neill wasn't far behind, finishing 27th in 16:51.08. Junior Chase Rhodus was 52nd with a time of 18:18.44 in his return to the Sand Shark lineup after a year away, and freshman Connor Appel was 70th in 20:40.50.
In the women's race, senior Melissa Labelle (24:35.36) and junior Meleah Powers (24:39.97) finished 79th and 80th to round out the scoring. Senior Sarah Turrubiate (26:14.37) was 85th, sophomore Cassie Beato (27:30.94) was 89th and sophomore Rachelle Toth (28:09.25) was 91st.
The Sand Sharks return to action Sept. 14 at the Furman Cross Country Classic in Greenville.