After traveling to attend preseason camp in Michigan, the 2009 Bethel Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams began their seasons competing at the Midwest Classic hosted by Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais, Illinois. On the men’s side, the Pilots finished 5th overall out of nine teams. They were led by Sophomore Harrison Fausey, who placed 15th overall with a time of 27:44.55 for the 8k run.The men were also led by Sophomore Austin O’Conner, who also placed in the top 20, finishing 20th with a time of 28:16.39. Other top finishers for the Pilots included Freshman Jordan Oloomi, who finished with a time of 28:19.49, Junior Drew Bishop with a time of 29:28.69, and Junior Cory Naragon with a finishing time of 29:32.56. Unfortunately, there were a few injuries which kept a few Pilots from competing at later races. On the women’s side, they finished 3rd overall out of 7 teams. This notable performance by the Lady Pilots was led by Freshman Trisha Miller who finished with an overall time of 19:26.88 for the 5k run. That time earned Miller a third overall finish and also the accolades of the Mid-Central Conference. Following her strong performance Miller received the honor of being named the Mid-Central Conference runner of the week. Miller wasn’t the only Pilot that turned in a strong performance in the first meet of the year; many of the other Lady Pilots also turned in great times as there were four other Pilots who also placed in the top 20. These consisted of Senior Amber Wray who finished 9th with a time of 20:23.35, Sophomore Irene Kangai who placed 13th with a time of 20:35.14, Senior Katie Heisey who finished 16th with a 20:40.08 time, and Senior Danielle Lewis who placed 19th with a finishing time of 20:41.76. Following the Midwest Classic the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to compete in the Knight Invitational. The Knight Invitational consisted of some of the top teams in the nation at the NAIA level and NCAA Division III. Because of the quality of competition, the meet served as a quality early season test for both the men’s and women’s teams. The men finished 12th overall out of 14 teams and the women placed 10th out of 14. On the men’s side, the Pilots were once again led by Sophomore Harrison Fausey, who finished with a 26:49, earning him 69th place overall. Other top performers of the day consisted of Austin O’Conner, who finished 101st with a time of 27:24, Jordan Oloomi, who placed 113th with a time of 27:35 and Jared Mead who placed 145th with a finishing time of 28:17. Senior Jared Mead was encouraged with the team’s performance at the Knight Invitational. “The competition was harder at the Knight Invitational, but everyone stepped up and performed very well,” said Mead. The women also turned in another quality performance as they were able to finish five women under 20:00. They were once again led by Trisha Miller who placed 18th with a time of 18:46. Other top finishers consisted of Irene Kangai who finished 56th with a 19:26 time, Amber Wray who placed 64th with a time of 19:46, Danielle Lewis who finished 71st with a 19:58 time, and Katie Heisey who placed 72nd with a time of 19:59. Senior Ashley Wray is encouraged by the start of the season so far this year. “After the second meet it was really apparent that we have a lot going for us this year,” stated Wray. “Having five girls under 20 minutes is great and will really help us later on in the season.” The Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams will be in action again on Friday, Oct. 2nd, when they compete in the Notre Dame Invitational in Notre Dame, Ind. The first and only home meet of the year will take place on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10:45 a.m. The meet will be held at St. Patrick’s Park in South Bend, Ind.