Fast freshmen lead Gold Rush to second place at USM
September 4, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — In their first collegiate
cross country race, Xavier University of Louisiana freshmen Mark Dotson and Matt Pieri showed why they were among
the best high-school runners in Louisiana the past two seasons.
Dotson and Pieri finished 3-4 in a field of 33 Friday, leading the
Gold Rush to second place in the season-opening Southern Miss
Invitational. They also recorded two of the lowest four-mile times
in school history.
Dotson became the second XU harrier to break 22 minutes at
that distance, covering the course at Tatum Park in 21:58.43. Pieri's
22:08.95 is No. 4 on the XU all-time list.
In seventh place — his ninth career top-10 finish —
was senior Darren Wallace, whose 22:52.51 is sixth on the XU list. Wallace owns two of the six
lowest four-mile times in Gold Rush history.
Sophomore Ray Walston, who holds the Xavier four-mile record, was
15th in 23:14.53.
West Alabama's Jonathan Sellers won in 21:40.70.
Dotson, from Alexandria's Holy Savior Menard Central High School,
was the Class 2A cross country individual state champion in 2008 and 2007 and won
indoor and outdoor state track championships in 2009 in the 1,600-meter run.
Pieri, from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans, finished fourth in the 2007 Class 5A state meet and
ninth in the 2008 meet. He helped Brother Martin win the 5A state championship in 2007 and finish third in '08.
The Gold Rush scored 48 points, 12 behind team champion West Alabama.
Xavier, an NAIA member, finished ahead of two NCAA Division I opponents, Jackson State
and Nicholls State. It was the first time since 2003 that Xavier's men outscored Nicholls.
Xavier, the three-time defending Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion,
also outscored league opponent Mobile. That gives the Rush a 26-0 record against GCAC competition since
the start of the 2007 season.
Xavier will compete next in the
Wolfpack Invitational on Sept. 12 at Lafreniere Park in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans.