Spartanburg, S.C. - The College of Charleston men's and women's cross country teams started the 2010 season showing great improvement from last year as the women's squad finished fifth and the men sixth at the Eye Opener at USC Upstate on Saturday morning.
Freshman Dena O'Brien was the top finisher on either side coming in fourth-place with a 5k time of 18:09. O'Brien, a native of Pelham, Ala. Improved on her previous best by more than a minute and was only seven seconds behind the first-place finisher.
On the men's side junior Chris Bailey led the team with a tenth-place finish and an improvement on his career best with a time of 26:07 in the 8k race.
O'Brien wasn't the only freshman to shine at the meet, as fellow newcomer Andrew Nelson crossed the finished line in 13th place, only nine seconds behind Bailey.
Cougar Head Coach Amy Seago said she was very encouraged by the results of the meet.
"Overall I was very pleased with our first meet," Seago said. "We are definitely ahead of where we were last year on both sides. Place wise might not look like it, but as far as overall averages and top five it was a good meet."
Following O'Brien for CofC was sophomore Grace Loba in 19:17 and 19th place overall. Seago said Loba had a good race, especially considering she had not run cross country in over a year.
Rounding out the top-five for the women were freshman Danielle Hobbs in 42th place, sophomore Tierney Willard in 44st place and senior Kristen Jenkins in 56th.
After Bailey and Nelson was junior Alexander Hill in 33rd place, freshman Jeff Crain in 51st place and sophomore Manning Miller in 59th.
The Cougars take a break from competition next weekend and resume action Sept. 18 in a meet at Winthrop which will feature many Southern Conference opponents.