Highlanders and Hatters Earn Men's Cross Country Meet Titles

LakePoint, Ga. - Two ASUN Men's Cross Country squads landed meet titles over the weekend as NJIT and Stetson guided the pack in their respective races. Blake Brancato led NJIT to a victory at the Highlander XC Challenge, while Stetson's Hillary Melly was the Hatters' top finisher at the Disney Cross Country Challenge.

Brancato grabbed second place with his time of 25:50.57 in the 8K race as he grabbed the top spot by a Division I runner. He crossed the line 24 seconds ahead of Wagner's Joseph Abbatiello, who finished in third place overall. As a team, NJIT defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, Wagner and St. Peter's as the Highlanders posted three of the fastest four times in the challenge. Ryan Budhu (26:44.65) collected fourth place and Gerard Gill (26:50.74) landed in sixth.

Stetson snagged first place behind a strong team showing at the Disney XC Challenge with three runners in the top-25 in a field of 19 squads; including five Division I sides. Melly finished ninth overall in 26:39.7 as Arye Beck (26:57.8) and Stew Schmidt (27:30.2) collected 12th & 22nd place, respectively. As a team, the Hatters bested four other Division I program; FAU, Youngstown State, Bethune-Cookman and FIU.

Jacksonville ran at the FSU Invitational and were led by Alex Turnock (27:19.3) and Brett Gerhardt (28:26.4) as the Dolphins finished in sixth as a team.

Top-Eight Fastest Men's Times (Meet - Finish)

25:50.57 - Blake Brancato, NJIT (NJIT XC Challenge - 1st)
26:39.7 - Hillary Melly, Stetson (Disney XC Classic - 9th)
26:44.65 - Ryan Budhu, NJIT (NJIT XC Challenge - 3rd)
26:50.74 - Gerard Gill, NJIT (NJIT XC Challenge - 5th)
26:57.8 - Arye Beck, Stetson (Disney XC Classic - 12th)
27:19.3 - Alex Turnock, Jacksonville (FSU Invite - 29th)
27:30.2 - Stew Schmidt, Stetson (Disney XC Classic - 22nd)
27:48.6 - Samuel Craig, Stetson (Disney XC Classic - 28th)

Upcoming Men's XC Schedule
Friday, October 13th
• Kennesaw State & North Florida at Crimson Classic - Tuscaloosa, Ala. - 9 AM CT
• NJIT at Metropolitan Championship - Bronx, N.Y. - 1:30 PM
• FGCU & Stetson at USF Invitational - Tampa, Fla. - 5 PM
• USC Upstate at ECU Invitational - Greenville, N.C. - 5 PM
Saturday, October 14th
• Lipscomb & NJIT at Princeton Invitational - Princeton, N.J. - 9:30 AM ET
• Lipscomb at Front Runner Invite - Chattanooga, Tenn.

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