The Charlotte 49er cross country program has been a bright spot for the school's athletics the past few years. Heading into the season, the Niners gained a ton of respect for their performances in the "Covid Year." The men's team was given the No. 1 rank in the Conference USA preseason poll, while the women ranked number two.
A season of success
Both teams started the season off against UNC Chapel Hill in the Charlotte Opener. The 49ers battled hard against one of the top teams in the country.
For the men, Nick Scudder set an all-time course record with a time of 14:40.7, finishing first among all participants. Paul Arredondo, Avery Cannon, Hunter White and Jacob Gallant rounded out the top 10 for the 49ers placing sixth, seventh, eighth and 10th. The men kept it close but lost 23-34 to the Tarheels.
For the women, Chandler Horton led the way for the 49ers, placing sixth. Louise Lounes and Sophia Ritter eclipsed in the top 10 for Charlotte. The women fought hard but ultimately fell 17-42 to the Tarheels.
Charlotte followed their opener up with the Firetower Project in Boone, North Carolina. Although both Charlotte teams did not compete, many runners had good individual performances. Tim Haughton placed 27th in the event, making him the top runner for the men, followed by Jackson Martin, who placed 33rd.
First-year Bailey Fowler placed 15th, leading the way for the women. Runners Alina Rovnak, Lauren Johnston and Caitlyn Burkett had good runs placing 21st, 34th and 58th for the Niners.
Charlotte's third race of the season was the Queen City Invite. The men did not compete, but the women were impressive, placing sixth as a team out of 32. Jade Martin had a phenomenal race placing 19th overall and first for the 49ers. Margaret Ward and Jenna Newman followed closely behind Jade, placing 37th and 41st, finishing out the top 3 for the Niners.
In their fourth competition, the men competed hard, placing ninth out of 23 teams in the Joe Piane Invitational in South Bend, Indiana. All-conference runner Nickolas Scudder placed third in the entire race, showing out for the Charlotte 49ers. First-year standout Louise Lounes also placed third in the entire event for the women, contributing heavily to the Niner's second-place finish in the Piane Invitational.
In the Niners' fifth competition, the Royals Challenge, the men placed 15th out of 33 teams, with Jackson Martin leading the way, placing 43rd overall. The women did not compete as a team, but Jenna Newman placed 35th, topping the finishers for the Niners.
Both of the teams finished the regular season out strong in the Pre-National Invitational in Tallahassee. The men placed 17th out of 40 teams, with star runner Nickolas Scudder placing first on the team with an impressive 14th rank overall. The women placed 10th out of 29 teams, with Louise Lounes continuing her impressive first-year campaign with the 10th best finish in the entire race.
Hunting for conference titles
The Conference USA Championship will take part this Saturday at Frank Liske Park in Concord. Charlotte's men's team will look to become back-to-back conference champions for the first time in school history, while the women look to build off their second-place finish in last year's championship.
The teams will have a chance to take part in the NCAA Southeast Regional, which will take place Nov. 12.