SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Saint Louis cross country squads competed in the National Catholic Invitational at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

The Billiken women’s team placed four runners in the top 30 and finished fourth overall out of 11 NCAA Division I programs. The men had three runners finish in the top 40 en route to a sixth-place finish out of 11 NCAA Division I teams.

"I am excited with how our women ran this afternoon," SLU head coach Jon Bell said. "They ran with confidence and poise, which is exactly what we wanted to do. We will continue with our training plan and I expect we will see improvements the next time we race.

"The men, unfortunately, did not run their best today," Bell continued. "I am happy with Ben Naeger and Aaron Dugan's performance, but collectively we have to compete better. This is the first time we've come to a meet of this level as the defending champions, and it's a different race when you have the target on your back. We'll learn from this and get ready for our next meet."

For the second meet in a row, Courtney Link led the women’s team. She finished with a 5K time of 18:12.8, good for a top-20 finish. Katie Anderson followed with a time of 18:26.2, while Anna Schmitz was the next Billiken finisher with a time of 18:26.2.

Freshman Ben Naeger led the men’s team, finished 20th overall in the five-mile run with a time of 25:46.6. That time ranked third among freshmen competing in the race. Aaron Dugan (26th, 26:01.7), Colton Nettleton (38th, 26:27.0) and Dorrian Gordon (26:30.3) also broke the 27-minute mark for the Billikens.

Manuel de Backer, who won last week’s season-opening Forest Park XC Festival, was not scheduled to run in today’s meet.

The Billikens have next week off and will compete again at Notre Dame on Friday, Sept. 29, in the Joe Piane Invitational.

BILLIKEN RESULTS

Women’s 5K Varsity (Overall finish, name, time)
19. Courtney Link, 18:12.8
22. Katie Anderson, 18:22.9
24. Anna Schmitz, 18:26.2
28. Natalie Davis, 18:30.7
33. Courtney Pfanstiel, 18:44.9
41. Amy Kieliszewski, 19:01.7
53. Hannah Pierson, 19:21.6
54. Madeline Nathe, 19:21.7
66. Ellie Adams, 19:41.3

Men’s 5 Mile Varsity (Overall finish, name, time)
20. Ben Naeger, 25:46.6
26. Aaron Dugan, 26:01.7
38. Colton Nettleton, 26:27.0
46. Dorrian Gordon, 26:39.3
72. Sean Conlin, 27:20.9
120. Tannock Blair, 28:56.5
154. Nick Dolan, 30:04.9

Women’s 5K Open (Overall finish, name, time)
24. Elena Coleman, 20:34.7
25. Megan Ng, 20:35.9

Men’s 5 Mile Open (Overall finish, name, time)
14. Lance Mueller, 27:41.4