Alabama cross country opens with strong performance in Memphis

Anika Clark, Contributing Writer

The Alabama men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off their seasons with the Memphis Twilight Classic on Sept. 4. Each team finished in the top 10 overall. The women’s team placed fourth and the men’s team placed seventh. 

Leading the women’s team was Megan Patton, who finished ninth in the 5-kilometer race. Following her were Leahrose Mami in 12th, Kerri Walsh in 17th and Riley Schelp in 25th. Out of 22 teams, the women’s team finished in fourth place with 122 points.

The men’s team scored 175 points and finished seventh out of 20 teams. The team was led by Rich Saenz’s 16th-place finish in the 4-mile race. Three others followed behind to place in the top 50: Gavin Saacke in 36th, Scott Platek in 39th and Collin Jones in 48th. 

“The whole point this weekend was to get out on the course, compete as a team and get the season started, and we did that tonight,” head coach Dan Waters said. “I’m proud of Megan and Rich for leading the way for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone who competed here in Memphis using this race to make themselves better. From here, we’ll start adding folks into our lineup over the next month as we continue building toward the championship season.”

On Tuesday, the UA Athletics Department announced the addition of 51 new runners to the roster, including 22 women, 29 men, 15 transfer students and 36 true freshmen. This could be the largest incoming class for Alabama cross country in the program’s history.

“We are extremely proud of the group we’ve assembled in a number of ways,” Waters said. “It’s not just the numbers; it’s also the hard work that went into talent assessment and the overall quality of who we’ve brought in. This is a group that will help us in terms of top-end talent, but also in terms of depth. They’ll make a difference all over the track, from sprints, hurdles and jumps to distance and throws. We have some that are going to come in and make an immediate impact and some we feel are going to develop into championship-level competitors.”

Up next for Alabama cross country is the North Alabama Showcase hosted by The University of North Alabama. The Crimson Tide will travel to Huntsville for the competition on Sept. 17.