ST. LOUIS – The Saint Louis cross country squads opened their season on a high note Friday, taking home the men’s and women’s team titles in the collegiate portion of the Forest Park XC Festival at Aviation Field.

The Billiken women’s team placed five runners in the top 10. The men also had five finish in the top 10, including the first and second place finishers.

"I couldn't be happier with the way we began this season," SLU head coach Jon Bell said. "Both teams, men and women, ran smart, well executed races. Both teams made some minor technical mistakes, but we'll clean those up as the season progresses. I'm not too concerned with the times we ran, as this was a tough course, with a rather high temperature this evening. To come out of this meet with two team victories, increased confidence, and no injuries is a great weekend. This really is a fun team to coach and I know we're all looking forward to a good week of training and racing next weekend at Notre Dame."

For the second year in a row, Courtney Link led the women’s team and finished second overall with a 5K time of 18:48.61. Katie Anderson finished in third with a time of 18:55.54.

Manuel de Backer won the men’s race, covering the 7.5K course in a time of 24:39.23. Coming in second overall was Ben Naeger, who finished in 24:52.41 in his first collegiate race.

The meet was scored as a dual between the lone NCAA Division I programs competing – Saint Louis and Southeast Missouri State. The Billikens came out victorious in both the men’s and women’s races.


Women’s 5K (Overall finish, name, time)
2. Courtney Link, 18:48.39
3. Katie Anderson, 18:55.54
5. Anna Schmitz, 19:03.93
6. Natalie Davis, 19:13.25
8. Courtney Pfanstiel, 19:17.79
11. Amy Kieliszewski, 19:28.93
15. Hannah Pierson, 19:35.94
17. Madeline Nathe, 19:55.04
34. Elena Coleman, 21:10.17
37. Megan Ng, 21:17.19

Men’s 7.5K (Overall finish, name, time)
1. Manuel de Backer, 24:39.23
2. Ben Naeger, 24:52.41
4. Aaron Dugan, 24:58.36
7. Sean Conlin, 25:09.02
8. Dorrian Gordon, 25:11.77
11. Colton Nettleton, 25:39.67
18. Tannock Blair, 26:28.30
38. Nick Dolan, 28:55.99