The 90-degree heat did not stop the Butler women’s cross country team from scorching its opponents at the season-opening Illini Challenge last Friday.
The women’s team finished on top of the challenge with a score of 16. Purdue finished in second place, tallying 51 points.
The men’s team also had a strong showing. The Bulldogs took second place overall with a score of 62. Illinois’ 21 points allowed them to capture the championship.
In the women’s race, Butler had runners finish in the top four spots of the 4-kilometer competition.
Freshman Mara Olson had an exceptional first race, finishing with a first-place time of 14:45. Junior Becky Howarth crossed the line just nine seconds later to capture second place.
Rounding out the top four were sophomore Shelbi Burnett, who finished third with a time of 14:58, and junior Kaitlyn Love, who finished eight seconds behind Burnett.
Freshman Erica Carlson took eighth place with a time of 15:21, while freshman Chelsea Stephen completed the race just one second after her and grabbed ninth place.
In the men’s 6-kilometer race, sophomore Callum Hawkins put up a fight for first place but had to settle for a runner-up finish. Hawkins’ time of 18:51 put him one second behind the eventual winner, Illinois senior Chris DeSilva.
“It was a slower race,” Hawkins said. “The heat does affect [us] a lot, but everyone is in the same situation. The women’s team did very well, and for the guys it was there, but it just didn’t click.”
Sophomore Craig Jordan came in second for Butler and in 10th place overall with a finishing time of 19:20.
Junior Kevin Oblinger was Butler’s third finisher. His time of 19:39 was good for 15th place overall. Freshmen David Ford (23rd) and Kodi Mullins (29th) were the fourth and fifth finishers for the Bulldogs, respectively.
“The women’s race went well, but the guys kind of had a tough one,” Oblinger said. “We all got out there and really grinded on the course, so it was a good effort overall as a team.”
Neither Butler squad sent out all of its top runners since the Challenge was both teams’ first meet of the season.
Both teams will compete at the Indiana Intercollegiates on Friday Sept. 16 at Indiana University.