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LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: Darton cross country, soccer roll

In the women’s collegiate 5K on Saturday, sophomore Elena Oslund finished 3rd overall with a total time of 21:06 to lead the Lady Cavaliers to a second-place finish. (David Mann/Special to The Herald)

In the women’s collegiate 5K on Saturday, sophomore Elena Oslund finished 3rd overall with a total time of 21:06 to lead the Lady Cavaliers to a second-place finish. (David Mann/Special to The Herald)

ALBANY – The Cavaliers swept the Darton State College Invitational cross country race Saturday, taking a perfect score in their season opener on the Cavalier Trails at Darton.

Freshman Austin Stewart, of Smithville, won the collegiate 8K in 27:55 – nearly a full minute ahead of the field.

Cavaliers David Thornton ( 28:42), Victor Chicas (29:00), Ean Crawford (29:09) and Jordan Richey (29:15) finished 2nd-5th, respectively, to clinch Darton’s perfect score of 15 points.

But the Cavaliers kept coming as Jelani Omari (29:37) and Jose Batista (29:51) placed 6th and 7th, respectively.

“They all broke 30 minutes; that’s good for our first race,” Darton head cross country coach Bruce Skiles said.

Skiles is confident they will get faster as the season progresses, as his top three runners Saturday — all freshmen — ran low 16s during high school.

“They’re just not in shape to handle five miles,” Skiles said. “It’s a big leap from the 5K.”

Point University finished second with 59 points, South Georgia State College finished third with 82 and Central Georgia Tech – a newcomer to Region XVII – finished fourth with 104 points.

In the women’s collegiate 5K, sophomore Elena Oslund finished 3rd overall with a total time of 21:06 to lead the Lady Cavaliers to a second-place finish.

“She’s pretty strong,” Skiles said. “I think she can get down into the low 19s, 19:30, somewhere in there with the right weather and the right course.”

Darton scored 36 points to place behind Point University’s 21 points. South Georgia finished 3rd with 97 points while Central Georgia Tech finished last with 122 points.

Lady Cavaliers Amber Brasswell (22:25), Kaitlyn Winter (22:40) and Jaishelle Thomas (22:45) finished 6th, 7th and 8th, respectively. Victoria Parra ( 23:55) finished 12th overall to complete Darton’s score.

Darton looked like a pair of fifth consecutive conference championships is well within reach. The program will travel to Americus for the Georgia Southwestern State Invitational on Saturday. The women’s race begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by the men’s 8K at 9 a.m.

The Cavaliers will race again at Darton on Sept. 28, and plan on hosting the Georgia Collegiate Athletics Association Championship on Oct. 26.

DARTON SOCCER ROLLS: In only the first 17 minutes of a highly anticipated match with conference-rival Georgia Perimeter College, Darton freshman Darwin Espinal scored. And scored. And then he scored again.

It was his second hat trick in only two games as a Cavalier, and this one put Darton up 3-0 as they cruised to a 4-1 victory against the Jaguars late Saturday.

“It’s only the beginning,” said Darton State head soccer coach Bart Sasnett. “That kid’s gonna destroy this league.”

Espinal’s first two goals were aesthetic and precise, but his third was the nail in the coffin. The Fort Lauderdale native just put his hands up after pushing the ball past a troubled goalkeeper as if he was a little surprised himself. The Jaguars didn’t know what hit them, and suddenly they had to try and come back from a three-goal deficit against a program that hasn’t lost a regular-season home game in nearly three years.

Goalkeeper Adam Cahill would see that they wouldn’t. The freshman from Choctaw, Fla., stopped 12 of 13 shots on his goal. The Jaguars’ lone goal came from a corner kick in the 87th minute of the match.

Cahill was also credited with an assist. Sophomore midfielder Jorge Chirinos gave two assists as well and sophomore defender Allan Kuhne gave one.

The No. 3 ranked Cavaliers are now 2-0. They’ll play at Thomas University on Wednesday before hosting Eastern Florida State at 7 p.m. on Friday.