MIDDLETON, Wisc. - On Friday, October 12 the Columbia men's and women's cross-country team competed in one of the top meets of the season at the University of Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Coming into the race with a No. 17 national ranking, the Columbia men made a strong case to once again burst up the charts, as they finished tied for fifth out of a loaded 45-team field in the 8K race.
The field featured 19 of the nation's top-30 ranked opponents in the latest USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country Poll. In one of the biggest performances in program history, the Lions defeated 14 ranked opponents including No.1 Wisconsin, No. 5 Portland, No. 10 Syracuse, and No.11 Princeton. Columbia earned a team total 308 points, tied for fifth with No.19 Arkansas. No.8 Stanford took first in the meet followed by No. 5 Iona, #4 Oklahoma, and No. 22 Texas.
"Today was the greatest single team performance in Columbia Men's Cross Country history. We beat many of the nation's most storied programs. Today, we took a giant step forward and have joined the ranks of the nation's very best programs. We have legitimized ourselves as one of the top-10 programs in the nation, " said Willy Wood, Head Coach of Cross Country.
Senior Mike Murphy led the pace for the Lions taking a top-5 finish with a time of (23:47, 22nd). Columbia placed four runners in the top-70 behind another strong performance by junior Jacob Sienko who took 55th place with a time of 24:03. In the pack with Sienko were seniors Mark Feigen and Leighton Spencer, taking 63rd and 64th place, crossing the finish line at 24:06.
On the women's side, the Lions faced a tough 48-team field including 19 nationally ranked opponents. Columbia took on its toughest challenge of the season without All-American Waverly Neer in the 6K-race. A team total of 826 points gave Columbia a 36th overall finish at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.
Next up for both Lions teams is the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Princeton, N.J.