COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Geoffrey Sambu was the first runner across the finish line and Tennessee Tech placed seven runners among the top 11 as the Golden Eagle men's cross country team opened the 2014 season under first-year coach Wayne Angel with a first place team finish at the Carolina Invitational early Saturday.
"The guys had a really solid performance," Angel said of his team's debut meet. " Sambu pretty much ran away from the field. It was a good start start to the season, but we've got a lot of work to do, and a long ways to go.
"I was really pleased with several aspects, though. In terms of being motivated and following instructions, I thought we did well," Angel said.
Tech put up a team score of 25 points for the victory, with The Citadel (37) in second, followed by Pfeiffer (75) and Presbyterian (113).
Sambu, a sophomore transfer from Florida A&M who ran at his previous school under Angel's direction, clocked a time of 15:37.55 in the 5K race as he made his Golden Eagle debut. He won by 17 seconds over runnerup Michael Lantz of The Citadel.
"Our team stayed together the first mile, and in the second mile it was Sambu and (Daniel) Williamson," Angel said. "After that, he just pulled away from everybody. That was a very comfortable margin in a race of that distance and I don't think he was even breathing hard. He's in the best shape I've seen him, and I think he's going to have a really great season."
Sophomore Brennan Huber placed fourth overall as Tech's second finisher, running a time of 16:09.80. Williamson, also a sophomore, was next in the time of 16:30.56. Tech's scoring also included senior Sterling Smith in eighth place at 16:41.30, and freshman Ian Barclay in ninth with a time of 16:49.43.
Rounding out the Tech lineup were sophomore Sam Lariviere (17:05.65) in 10th place, sophomore Jordan Roth (17:15.67) in 11th, freshman Collin Gwaltney (17:24.07) in 13th place, sophomore Wesley King (17:28.38) in 15th, and freshman Blake Rhoden (17:54.27) in 17th place.
"Overall, I was very, very pleased with how they raced," Angel said.
The Golden Eagles will run in the Indiana Open next Saturday, a race hosted by the University of Indiana.