WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – University of Saint Joseph junior Kaneen Gomez-Hixson (Wethersfield, Conn.) finished second overall and was the first Division-III finisher Saturday at the 8th Annual USJ Blue Jay Invitational, held on campus.
Gomez-Hixson, who entered the final quarter mile in fourth place, made up about eight seconds in the final minute of the race and ran down two competitors with a strong finishing kick that propelled her to the runner-up finish in 19:59.29. University of Hartford senior Harriet Smith (Victoria, Australia), running unattached, was the individual winner in 19:53.9. Sarah Buckley (Slingerlands, N.Y.) and Carly Schuyler (Bethel, Conn.) of Hartford were 3-4 and USJs Mia Tompkins (Meriden, Conn.) was fifth.
Mary Anderson (Granby, Conn.) was 15th for the Blue Jays and Alyssa Vereneau (Newington, Conn.) in 17th and Madison Boyce (East Hampton, Conn.) in 18th in the 40-runner field, also earned scoring spots for the Blue Jays.
Gomez-Hixson shaved a minute, 35 seconds off her time on the same course from last year. Anderson was 24 seconds quicker than last year and senior Bridget Saur (South Windsor, Conn.), who was USJs sixth runner and 20th overall in her last home meet, was 1:02 faster than last year and shaved six minutes, 27 seconds off her time on her home course over her career.
Hartford won the team competition with 23 points, USJ was second with 38, followed by Suffolk, 86 and Bay Path, 111. Michelle Kearney (Halifax, Mass.) was Suffolk's top finisher in 19th and Rebecca Spilitor (Walpole, N.H.) was the first Bay Path finisher, in 22nd.
USJ next runs at Westfield State, Sat. Oct. 10 in a noon meet.