Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's and women's cross country teams hosted the annual Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 7) at FSU's Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids.
The non-scoring collegiate field included a variety of teams from all levels of competition across the state such as FSU, Northwood, Oakland CC, Kuyper, Alpena CC and Kirtland CC along with unattached student-athletes and competitors.
The nationally-ranked Bulldog women were led by Kayla Smith, who took fifth place in a time of 19:39.69 on the 5K women's course. Teammate Breeann Ovokaitys came in seventh at 19:59.54 with Paige Koskinen ninth (20:17.36), Jeanne Wilson 19th (21:26.86) and Erika Roe 20th (21:32.62) for FSU.
On the men's side, Andrew Harper paced the Bulldogs by taking fourth place with a time of 26:53.01 on the men's 8K course. Meanwhile, Lucas Copi placed 13th (27:59.67) with Tyler Weedon 14th (28:00.24), Douglas Hulbert 16th (28:10.36) and Kyle Richardson 20th (28:29.73) for the Bulldogs.
Connor LaRowe took 22nd place (28:43.47) and Evan Vanosdol wound up 23rd (29:00.07) for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs are back in action on Friday (Sept. 13) as they take part in the Michigan State Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Mich.
The Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational was renamed in 2010 in honor of former coach Ray Helsing, who guided the Bulldog cross country along with track and field programs from 1968-82. Helsing was inducted into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001 and tutored more All-Americans than any coach in FSU history. He helped produce 20 All-Americans in cross country and track from 1968-82 and was best known for founding and coaching Ferris cross country, leading his teams to a 77-17 dual meet mark and four Great Lakes Conference titles.
This year (2013) marked the 38th-straight (39th overall) running of the Bulldog Invitational and either a men's or women's collegiate event has been held each year since 1976.
The first men's race was held in 1971 before being discontinued and restarted in 1976. Ferris did not participate in men's cross country from 1994-98. The women's invitational has been held every year since the program began in 1980. Saturday's run was the 34th consecutive women's race.
The Ferris State men's and women's cross country teams are guided by former Bulldog standout and current sixth-year head coach Steve Picucci. The Bulldog women are ranked 15th nationally in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II Preseason National Rankings along with third in the Midwest Region while the men's team is listed sixth in the regional rankings and 25th in the country.