Three University of Tennessee at Chattanooga runners entered the 40th annual Missionary Ridge Road Race, and they were the first three finishers in the 4.7-mile event Saturday morning from the Bragg Reservation.
Recent UTC graduate Sarah Woerner was the women's winner.
Fifth-year senior Lucas Cotter from Germantown, Tenn. -- actually an MBA student now -- led the Mocs contingent with a time of 24 minutes, 43 seconds. Stuart, a sophomore from Brentwood High School, was more than a minute behind in 25:40, 18 seconds ahead of junior Gilpin.
Stuart, Gilpin and Cotter were first through third in the Chattanooga Chase in May, and Gilpin won the Chickmauga Chase earlier in the year.
Saturday, the Mocs hung together for about half the race, but the humidity started getting to them and Cotter handled it the best.
"It's really pretty hot," said the winner, who turns 22 on Tuesday. "A couple of miles in we were all struggling and had to pull it back. If Paul and John had been right there at the end, who knows? If it had come down to a kick, I'm not sure who would've taken it."
Cotter admitted that he would like to be "at least the moral leader" of the Mocs in the fall cross country season but wouldn't claim to be the best runner.
"We've got a lot of good guys on the team. We'll just have to see," he said.
"The heat caught up with us for sure about two miles in, but Lucas is really strong," Gilpin said, adding that the Mocs had a rugged midweek workout. Stuart said he had "a pretty hard week" overall.
"I really felt the heat from the get-go," said Woerner, who's pointing to the Chicago marathon in October while working out in a training group led by former Baylor School coach Van Townsend. "I didn't go out as fast as in the past, but it felt as hard. I just tried to stay consistent."
She was 13th overall in 29:52, which she said was a personal record for the course.
Last year's overall winner, Patrick Hall, led everyone but the three Mocs again with his 26:07 time, and Lee University coach Caleb Morgan was fifth in 26:48. Tim Ensign, 50, was the masters winner and sixth overall in 27:39, and Hugh Enicks, 53, was seventh and the grand masters winner in 27:47.
Dianna Leun, 41, was the second female finisher, two spots ahead of Danielle Alfano, and the women's masters winner in a 26th-place 32:09, and Sharon Goforth was the grand masters winner in 37:39. There were 246 finishers.
Contact Ron Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6291.
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