LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The University of South Carolina Beaufort cross country team's season ended on a high note Saturday, as three Sand Shark runners turned in strong performances at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships at Rim Rock Farm.
USCB's Anthony Vecchio, Joyce Miller and Melissa Carder all turned in better performances than any Sand Shark runner previously had at nationals, with Vecchio placing 121st in the 8K men's race with a time of 26:07, and Miller (18:57) finishing 61st with Carder (19:39) 157th in the 5K women's race.
"I'm very proud of them," USCB coach Larry Kimball said. "It's a good way to end a pretty successful year."
A total of 313 men and 319 women completed the race, which was contested on the University of Kansas' home course.
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Vecchio was first to run for the Sand Sharks, and he went out conservatively expecting to need his energy down the stretch on a hilly course in freezing weather. The course didn't prove to be as daunting as he expected, though, and he urged Miller and Carder to be more aggressive.
The USCB women obliged and went out strong, setting a quick pace and exceeding their own expectations. Miller ran one of her best races of the year in her first appearance at nationals, Vecchio finished 56 seconds and 83 places better than he did a year ago in Vancouver, Wash., and Carder improved her time by 44 seconds and moved up 56 spots.
"All three of them were pretty pumped, and they all said they were already looking forward to next year," Kimball said. "They all talked about wanting to bring a full team out here next year, so it's time to hit the recruiting trail and find some people to complement them."