McMillen, Cronin sweep titles at Zaxby's Open

Tusculum's Will Cronin and Nicole McMillen swept individual titles at the 2019 Zaxby's Open
Tusculum's Will Cronin and Nicole McMillen swept individual titles at the 2019 Zaxby's Open

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University swept the men's and women's individual titles as the Pioneers opened the 2019 cross country season by hosting the Zaxby's Open Friday evening at the Holston Home for Children course.

Nicole McMillen set a collegiate course record in winning the women's race by more than a minute, and Will Cronin repeated his 2018 championship in the event for the Pioneer men as part of a one-two finish with Kyler Hodges for the second year in a row.

Tusculum's men finished second to Milligan with 43 points, while the Pioneer women earned third place in the field of seven teams with 78 points as Milligan captured the women's team title as well.

The Pioneers will return to action on Friday, Sept. 20 at the Wingfoot Classic in Cartersville, Georgia hosted by the Atlanta Track Club.

McMillen covered the 5-kilometer course in 18:58.0, breaking the meet record of 19:27.8 set by Whitney Elliott of Lincoln Memorial in 2017. McMillen finished 80 seconds ahead of runner-up Hannah Bell of Milligan, who was second in 20:18.5. Alissa Furches placed in the top 10 for the third straight year for the Pioneers, taking sixth with a time of 21:11.7.

Freshman Gabrielle Beckett was 16th overall in 23:06.6 for the Pioneers, while Emily Stoklosa and Brooklyn Smith finished back-to-back in 28th and 29th place. Stoklosa, a former winner of the event, ran 25:34.0 and Smith was timed at 25:39.8 to become the first Pioneer to compete in the event all four years of her career.

Milligan had five runners in the top ten and won the team championship with 25 points, followed by Lincoln Memorial with 59 and Tusculum with 78. Southern Wesleyan (92 points), UVa-Wise (135), Warren Wilson (141) and Walters State (142) rounded out the field.

Just as they did in 2018, Cronin and Hodges were the top two finishers for the Pioneers in the meet. Cronin ran 15:54.2 for just the third sub-16 minute time in the four-year history of the race. Hodges took second place at 16:32.1 while Milligan's Jake Crow finished third at 16:30.2.

Alex Perez ran third for the Pioneers and 12th overall with a time of 17:28.5, followed by Kyle Stanley in 14th place at 17:38.2. Carson Walls was the fifth runner for the Pioneers as he crossed the line in 17:44.0. Also running for the Pioneers were freshmen Antonio Aparicio, who took 20th place in 18:10.7, and Max Blevins who was 22nd overall in 18:24.2. Isaac Hybarger rounded out the Tusculum lineup by placing 48th in 22:24.2.

As in the women's race, the Milligan men had five runners in the top 10 and won the team title with 34 points, followed by the Pioneers with 43 points and Lincoln Memorial with 68. Southern Wesleyan was fourth with 123 points, followed by Warren Wilson (128), Walters State (149) and UVa-Wise (153).

At Holston Home for Children, Greeneville, Tenn.
Men's team scores: 1. Milligan, 34; 2. Tusculum, 43; 3. Lincoln Memorial, 68; 4. Southern Wesleyan, 123; 5. Warren Wilson, 128; 6. Walters State, 149; 7. UVa-Wise, 153.
Tusculum finishers: 1. Will Cronin, 15:54.2; 2. Kyler Hodges, 16:23.1; 12. Alex Perez, 17:28.5; 14. Kyle Stanley, 17:38.2; 17. Carson Walls, 17:44.0; 20. Antonio Aparicio, 18:10.7; 22. Max Blevins, 18:24.2; 48. Isaac Hybarger, 22:24.2.

Women's team scores: 1. Milligan, 25; 2. Lincoln Memorial, 59; 3. Tusculum, 78; 4. Southern Wesleyan, 92; 5. UVa-Wise, 135; 6. Warren Wilson, 141; 7. Walters State, 142.
Tusculum finishers: 1. Nicole McMillen, 18:58.0; 6. Alissa Furches, 21:11.7; 16. Gabrielle Beckett, 23:06.6; 28. Emily Stoklosa, 25:34.0; 29. Brooklyn Smith, 25:39.8.