Butler leads cross country with career-best in season-opener

Drake Butler (photo by Larry Newman)
Drake Butler (photo by Larry Newman)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Sophomore Drake Butler opened the 2017 season with a career-best run to lead the Chapman University cross country teams at the UC Riverside Invitational on Saturday. A trio of freshman highlighted the first competition of the season for the women's team.

The men's team finished 32nd overall and 19th out of the non-Division I teams in the big opening race of 2017. The women's team took 30th overall and 13th out of the non-Division I teams.

Butler led the Panthers with a 26:39.9 in the men's 8k race, which was nearly a minute faster than his fastest time from his 2016 freshman campaign. The Panthers' youth finished off the scoring with four sophomores and a freshman being the first five Panthers to finish the race.

Sophomore Tomas Aragone was the next to cross the finish line for Chapman at the 29:18.0 mark. He was immediately followed byb fellow sophomore Chris Pai at 29:20.2. Freshman Kian Deshler made his Panther debut with a 29:53.1 and sophomore Erick Garcia  finished up Chapman's scoring with a 29:56.5

In the women's race, junior newcomer Katie Maynard led the Panthers with a 24:15.2. A middle distance specialist for the Panthers' track & field team, Maynard made her cross country debut with the Panthers fastest time of the morning. Freshman Emma Eglinton posted a time of 24:48.8 and junior Mia Hernandez followed with a 24:57.2. Another pair of freshmen finished off the Panthers' scoring runners. Cailyn Sakurai came in with a time of 25:24.4 and classmate Devin Codon crossed the line with a 26:08.6.

Chapman will line back up for another run on Friday at the Golden West Central Park Classic in Huntington Beach, Calif.