Running in a Pack of its Own

September 29, 2001

Ryan Gallagher, <i>Hullabaloo</i> staff writer
Phone: (504) 865-5210

The Tulane men's and women's cross country teams have started off strongly this season, to say the least. The Lady Wave, led by juniors Eva Lustigova and Katrina Gemmell, head into this weekend's meet at Auburn University undefeated. The Wave won yet another contest in the early season.

Lustigova claimed her second consecutive individual championship as she paced the Lady Wave to the trophy at the Ragin' Cajun Classic, hosted by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Sept. 22. By placing all five of the team's runners in the top 20, the Lady Wave narrowly edged Louisiana-Lafayette 42-51. Lustigova, who has yet to lose in her young cross country career at Tulane, ran the three-mile course in 18:19.

Gemmell crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 18:25. Lyndie Galka finished at 19:27, earning a fifth place finish. Completing the scoring were Carlyne Pradieu, who finished in 20:35 for 13 place, and Sheena Garwood, who claimed 20 place with a time of 21:04.

The Wave, ranked No. 5 in the South Central Region, will rely on its knack for running in a pack at the Auburn Bank Invitational. Earlier in the day, the men's team won its first team title of the season, crushing second place Nicholls State by a score of 28-78. The race was never in doubt as the Wave's Kenyan trio of Solomon Kandie, Meshack Mulupi, and Anthony Lagat dominated the competition from the starting gun.

Running through the muddy trails of Lafayette's Acadiana Park, the Wave managed to place its five runners inside the first 16 competitors, assuring an easy victory. Kandie led all comers with a deceiving four-mile time of 21:43. Nearing the finish, Kandie took a wrong turn on the course and lengthened the race slightly over its intended four-mile pattern.

After alternating the lead with Mulupi and Lagat throughout the early going, Kandie made his move on the third mile and never looked back. Meanwhile, Mulupi and Lagat enjoyed a spirited battle for second place. Heading for the straightaway, Mulupi outkicked Lagat for second place with a time of 22:16, while Lagat cruised in at 22:21 for third place.

After Northwestern State's top two Kenyan harriers crossed the finish in fourth and fifth place, the Wave's Adam Leskis crossed the line in 23:02 for a sixth place finish, at the same time distinguishing himself as the top American in the field. Peter Rotich completed the low score of 28 points with a 16th place time of 23:54.

The Wave heads to Auburn focused on defending its team title from a year ago. The fifth-ranked team in the South Central region will face tough competition as regional rivals Texas A&M and Baylor set their sights on the team title. All-American David Kimani and the 22 ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide will compete, as will Conference USA rival UNC-Charlotte.

Cross-state rival LSU will also make the trip in hopes of knocking off the Wave. After two early season tune-ups, the men's and women's teams have responded well. This weekend's meet will serve as a measuring stick for both teams as they prepare for the Conference USA Championship Oct. 27.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000