The Middlebury cross country teams both turned in strong performances at the Purple Valley Classic hosted by Williams on Saturday at the Mount Greylock Regional High School course. The 21st-ranked men placed fourth in the 19-team field with 145 points, while the 19th-ranked Panther women were fifth out of 14 programs with 134 points. Middlebury returns to action next Saturday when it competes at both the Paul Short Invitational and the Keene State Invitational.
On the women's side, four teams in the top 10 nationally finished ahead of the Panthers, as eighth-ranked Tufts claimed the crown with 60 points.
Cassie Kearney paced the Middlebury women, taking eighth out of 160 runners in the 6K race with a time of 23:39.0. Next to cross the line was Talia Ruxin in 10th with a mark of 23:41.2, while Chloe Smith was 28th in 24:23.1. Sophie Nardelli was the next Panther finisher when she posted a time of 24:51.9 to finish 45th, while Bridget Ulian rounded out the scorers in 54th (25:11.2).
The men finished behind three top-20 nationally-ranked teams, including second-ranked Williams, who won the team title with 31 points.
The Middlebury men had all five scoring runners place in the top 51 in the field of 228 runners. Leading the pack was Theo Henderson, who completed the 8K course in 27:10.0 to place 14th. Alexander Kessler finished seven spots behind in 21st in 27:15.6, while Henry Fleming was next in 29th (27:23.1) and Connor Montgomery in 48th (27:44.8). Graham Rainsby completed the scorers in 51st place with a clocking of 27:50.1.