Bowling Green, KY (ASU) — The Arkansas State women's cross country team landed three runners in the top 16 finishers to place third at the Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday at Kereiakes Park in Bowling Green, Ky. The third-place finish was the highest ever for the women's team.
Freshman Kristina Aubert led the Red Wolves with a fourth place individual finish and was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and to the All-Conference team at the race's conclusion.
Western Kentucky's Marion Kandie ran a 17:34.3 to finish first and lead the Hilltoppers to the team title with 39 points. Middle Tennessee finished second with 86 points, followed by A-State with 94.
In the men's race Arkansas State finished eighth with 175 points, with senior Bailey Bunyan leading the Red Wolves with a time of 25:54.9 to finish 12th. UALR scored 50 points to capture the team title, followed by Middle Tennessee in second place with 76 points.
Aubert posted a time of 18:01.0 to finish in a fourth-place tie with WKU's Michelle Finn. Arkansas State senior Dawn L'Heureux finished 14th with a time of 18:56.7, junior Chelsea Weaver ran the 5k course in 19:01.5 to place 16th, junior Sydney Foreman placed 28th with a time of 19:40.6 and sophomore Sam Salinas ran a 19:47.4 to finish 32nd in the 77-runner field.
On the men's side, Western Kentucky had the top two runners in the race, with Shadrack Kipchirchir winning the 8k run with a time of 24:33.1 to earn All-Conference and Freshman of the Year honors. In addition to Bailey's 12th place finish, the Red Wolves also got a 29th place time of 26:56.0 from senior James Ngwiri and a 35th place finish from sophomore David Mills, who ran a 27:32.3.
"Our women were really close and we knew second, third and fourth place would be very close together, and it was," said ASU head coach Lon Badeaux. "Our five and six runners ran great and we were very happy with Kristina running fourth and earning Freshman of the Year honors. It was all positive on the women's side. We would have loved to finish second, but we will take third."
"The guys side was just so competitive," continued Badeaux. "We were just 12 points out of fifth place. We have gone through a lot of adversity in losing our top runner from last year, and lost him late, so I thought we did outstanding. For us to be in the middle of the pack was very good and I thought Bailey ran very well. As a team we ran as good as we could have possibly run. We were eighth last year as well, but we scored fewer points with this team, so I certainly can't complain. Everybody gave us the best possible race they could have given us."
The Red Wolves will now advance to the South Central Regional, which will be run Nov. 13 in Waco, Texas and hosted by Baylor University.
"Our goal for the women is to be a top-15 ranked team in the region, and I think with this kind of effort we can definitely do that," said Badeaux.
Sun Belt Men's Cross Country All-Conference Teams
1. Shadrack Kipchirchir, WKU
2. Deus Rwaheru, WKU
3. Festus Chemaoi, Middle Tennessee
4. Jonathan Cherono, UALR
5. Johnny Purvis, UALR
6. Enock Kirui, Troy
7. Daniel Mutai, Louisiana-Monroe
8. Patrick Strong, North Texas
9. Dustin Mettler, UALR
10. Scott Lasiter, South Alabama
Sun Belt Women's Cross Country All-Conference Team
1. Marion Kandie, WKU
2. Vasity Chemweno, WKU
3. Friederike Feil, Florida Atlantic
4. Kristina Aubert, Arkansas State
4. Michelle Finn, WKU
6. Rebecca Hallam, Florida Atlantic
7. Ingrid Mollenkompf, North Texas
8. Tori Lawson, South Alabama
9. Deanna Brasz, Middle Tennessee
10. Sara Dietz, North Texas