(San Antonio) - Ashley Rynard's second-place overall finish led the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs to a second-place finish among NCAA Division III teams and to a third-place finish among all divisions with a team score of 71 at the Our Lady of the Lake Invitational.
Rynard finished second overall in a personal best 6K time of 23 minutes, 48 seconds, which moves her up to second all-time in the TLU Women's Cross Country record books for the distance.
On the men's side, sophomore Caleb Calderon (Austin/Atkins/St. Andrews) and senior Rudy Calderon (Pleasanton/Pleasanton) led the Bulldogs in their first 8K race of the season with respective 14th and 17th-place finishes and respective times of 28 minutes, 11 seconds and 28:23. Caleb Calderon's time moved him up to number five on the Bulldog's all-time performance list over the distance.
For the TLU Women, Felicia Ortiz (Skidmore/Skidmore-Tynan) and Kaitlyn Rodriguez (Bandera/Bandera) came home next for the in their first-ever 6K races with respective 12th and 18th-place finishes and respective times of 25:51 and 26:33. Breauna Gabriel and Kylee Garcia rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs with 19th and 20th place finishes.
Head Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach Darlene Holland was pleased with women's performance.
"Ashley (Rynard), who is typically a middle-distance specialist, continues to impress as she gains more confidence on the cross country course," said Holland.
Holland was also impressed with the 6k debuts of freshmen Ortiz and Rodriquez.
"They were apprehensive coming into the race, but both ran well and can do much better the next time around now that they have a race under their belt," said Holland.
The veteran presence of Gabriel, Garcia, and sophomore Ciara Rodriguez turned in strong performances.
"The big personal bests from the three returnees speaks to their training, excitement for their sport, and their determination to be better," said Holland.
Donald Manuszewski (Cibolo/Steele) and Blake Westbrook (Victoria/Victoria West) followed closely for the Bulldogs with 21st and 24th place finishes in times of 28:52 and 28:57, respectively. Freshman Francisco Olvera (Boling/Boling) rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs with a 26th-place finish.
Holland was pleased with the way the men have improved.
"For the men we are seeing improvement each week," said Holland. "We have to keep hitting our training hard each week because as we get better, so do our SCAC opponents."
Holland was also excited about the improved execution of the team's pack-running strategy.
"We raced conservative and ran as a pack over the first three miles and held strong the rest of the way in," said Holland.
While Holland was excited about the performance, she expects more the next time the Bulldogs race.
"As we get more accustomed to the longer race distance, I expect the times to drop a significant amount in two weeks when we head to the UIW Invitational at Live Oak Park to race another 8K course."
The Bulldogs return to action next week at the Southwest Texas Junior College Invitational in Uvalde, Texas, where both genders are defending champions and will be racing a 5K course.