From the Sun Belt Conference
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Host: Samford: Hoover, Ala.
Sun Belt Teams Competing: Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Troy
South Central Region
Host: Baylor: Waco, Texas
Sun Belt Teams Competing: UALR, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, North Texas
Host: Louisville: Louisville, Ky.
Sun Belt Teams Competing: Western Kentucky
NEW ORLEANS – Several Sun Belt Conference teams are preparing for the NCAA Regional meets on Saturday, Nov. 13. Nine teams from the league will participate in the South, South Central and Southeast Regional meets.
Six SBC teams are regionally ranked by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association heading into the NCAA Regionals. Men's 2010 Sun Belt Champion UALR is the highest SBC team ranked at No. 5 in the South Central Region. Also on the men's side, Middle Tennessee comes in at No. 10 followed by South Alabama at No. 14 in the South Region.
For the women, five-time Sun Belt Champion Western Kentucky sits at No. 12 in the Southeast Region. The women's 2010 Sun Belt Runner-up Florida Atlantic is No. 14 in the South Region, and Arkansas State is No. 13 in the South Central Region.
In 2009, the Sun Belt had a strong showing at the NCAA Regionals with five runners advancing to the NCAA Championship meet. Leading the Sun Belt last season was WKU's Janet Jesang, who had a runner-up individual finish in the Southeast Regional and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championship meet. Jesang finished 11th in the 6,000-meter course in a time of 20:11, earning her fourth All-American honor of her career.
The Sun Belt looks to continue its post-season success this weekend.
Here is a team-by-team preview for the NCAA Regionals:
After winning the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Championship title, the UALR men's cross country team received the team's highest ranking so far this season at No. 5 in the South Central Region Poll. The Trojans move up two spots from No. 7 and have been ranked on the poll all season.
The Trojans won the 2010 SBC title recording 50 points and placing all eight runners in the Top 25. Head coach Milton Williams earned Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors for the second time in his career. The men's team has won three conference titles including back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 and the most recent in 2007. Over the past three years the Trojans have placed in the top three. The men placed first at the Tech Twilight, second at the Brooks Memphis Twilight, and seventh at the Chile Pepper Festival.
Jonathan Cherono was the top Trojan finisher placing fourth in 25:07.5 for the 8K and earning All-Sun Belt Conference honors. Johnny Purvis finished in fifth in 25:18.7 and Dustin Mettler placed ninth in 25:42.5 to each earn All-Sun Belt honors as well. Purvis has been the top Trojan finisher all season winning the UALR Invitational.
On the heels of their highest-ever finish at the Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships, the Arkansas State women's cross country team is ranked at No. 13 in the South Central Region.
The Red Wolves finished in third place at the conference championships, placing three runners among the race's top 16 finishers. 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. Senior Dawn L'Heureux finished 14th, junior Chelsea Weaver placed 16th, junior Sydney Foreman finished 28th and sophomore Sam Salinas finished 32nd in the 77-runner field.
As Arkansas State prepares for the Regional meet, the Red Wolves expect to be led by freshman Kristina Aubert, who has paced A-State in all five of its meets this season. Aubert ran a personal-best 17:18.39 to finish in 12th place out of 469 runners Oct. 16 at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at the University of Arkansas. It was the second consecutive race that she has posted a personal-best time, out-pacing the 17:42:24 that she registered Oct. 2 at the Greater Louisville Classic. Aubert was named the Sun Belt Conference Runner of the Week four times this year, including three consecutive times to wrap up the regular season.
Senior Dawn L'Heureux, who also ran a personal-best at the Chile Pepper Festival, is expected to finish strong for the Red Wolves, along with juniors Chelsea Weaver and Sydney Foreman, and sophomores Sam Salinas and Reilly McAtee.
On the men's side, the Red Wolves have been led by senior Bailey Bunyan, who finished ninth with a time of 25:19:90 in the middle division of the 8K men's race in Louisville and posted a 24:53.00 at the Memphis Twilight Classic. He was the top runner for Arkansas State in the SBC meet, placing 12th at a time of 25:54.9 and will be the only runner from the men's team competing in the regional meet.
The Florida Atlantic women's cross country team will be headed to Hoover, Ala., for this weekend's NCAA South Regional, hosted by Samford.
The Owls qualified for NCAA Regionals with a second place showing at the Sun Belt Championships two weeks ago. Friederike Feil and Rebecca Hallam earned all-conference honors at the meet, finishing third and sixth respectively.
This weekend's meet will be Florida Atlantic's first trip to a Regional since 2007, when the women finished 17th at the meet in Gainesville, Fla.
After leading the Warhawks to a fifth-place finish at the Sun Belt Championships, Daniel Mutai and Moses Chelimo will represent Louisiana-Monroe at the South Central Regional on Saturday in Waco, Texas.
Mutai earned all-conference honors with a seventh-place individual finish in 25:29.8, and Chelimo crossed the finished line 14th overall with a time of 25:55.5. The pair helped the Warhawks earn the program's best finish in a conference championship since 1997 when it finished fifth at the Southland Conference Championships.
Chelimo has finished in the top-10 in every event during the regular season, including a victory at the Louisiana-Lafayette Invitational. Mutai entered the SBC Championships coming off a strong third-place performance for ULM in the Choctaw Open on Oct. 16 in Clinton, Miss., directly following teammate Chelimo who placed second.
Coming off a men's runner-up finish in the conference championship, three Blue Raiders will travel to the South Regionals in Hoover, Ala., on Saturday. The team is currently ranked No. 10 in the South Region.
Festus Chemaoi was the top runner for Middle Tennessee in the SBC meet with a third-place finish at 25:02.8 to earn All-Conference honors. Chemaoi has consistently led the Blue Raiders all season as one of the most decorated distance runners in school history. Upon finishing second at the 2009 league championships, the Ainokoi, Kenya native became the first Blue Raider runner in 38 years to qualify for an NCAA Cross Country Championships. He finished 13th overall in 30:38.30 in the Regional a season ago. In 2010, the senior has been spectacular winning a school-record four races.
Chris Mason was the second finisher for the Blue Raiders in the SBC meet with a time of 25:52.1 to place 11th, just missing his second consecutive All-Conference honor. In the 2009 Regionals, Mason finished 46th overall in 32:09.5
Also making the trip to Hoover is Justin Cacaro, who placed 19th at the conference championship at 26:24.0. Cacaro finished 102nd overall in 33:36.88 at the 2009 Regionals while running for UT-Martin.
Three of the four runners representing the Mean Green at the South Regional in Waco, Texas, earned All-Conference honors at the SBC Championships on Oct. 30.
Patrick Strong led the way for the men's team, finishing in eight place overall in a time of 25:34.10. The senior has been North Texas' highest finisher in every race this season, having finished sixth or better in every race this season while winning two. Adrian Nevarez was the second Mean Green finisher, crossing the line in 26:49.3 at 26th place.
The women's side saw two All-Sun Belt Conference finishers. Junior Ingrid Mollenkopf tacked on yet another top-10 finish as she crossed the line in 18:20.80. Mollenkopf has paced the women the season, taking the highest finish of any Mean Green athlete in every race this fall. The Tucson, Ariz., native has taken home first place twice this season (Centenary College Invitational and North Texas Invitational) and claimed a top-20 finish at the Baylor Twilight Invitational.
Not far behind was Sara Dietz, who ran her way into tenth place with a late surge to beat out Troy's Silvia Chirchir by two seconds with a time of 18:43.10. Dietz has two second place finishes in 2010, both of which she nipped at the heels of fellow teammate Mollenkopf.
The University of South Alabama will compete in the 2010 NCAA cross country South Regional Championship. The meet will be held at Veterans Park in Hoover, Al at Spain Park High School. The women will begin the 6k at 9:45 a.m. and the men will close at 10:45 a.m. with the 10k.
South Alabama's Scott Lasiter and Tori Lawson will lead the Jaguars in the Championship after earning all-conference honors at the Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships two weeks ago in Bowling Green, Ky.
The Jaguars finished third in the men's race and fifth in the women's race.
Lasiter finished 10th with a time of 25:44.6 to lead the men's team, while Saber Salah finished 18th with a time of 26:23.20 on the 8k course. Mark Sullivan finished 20th with a time of 26:25.30, just two-tenths of a second behind Salah. Matt Miller finished 23rd with a time of 26:45.5, and Damien Lee finished 27th with a time of 26:51.60.
Zack Brantley finished 36th with a time of 27:42.9 while Alex Shields finished 43rd with a time of 28:11.1.
The USA women were led by Tori Lawson who earned an eighth place finish with a time of 18:26.4 on the 5k course. Freshman Dani Sullivan finished 13th with a time of 18:50.3. Jessie Mackie finished 24th with a time of 19:31.30, while Brittany Westmoreland finished 44th with a time of 20:11.6.
Faith Sanders finished 69th with a time of 21:38.8, and Courtney Kieffer placed 70th with a time of 21:51.4. Kendra Lowe finished 74th with a time of 22:23.2.
USA men running will be Saber Salah, Scott Lasiter, Zac Brantley, Mark Sullivan and Matt Miller. The women runners will be Tori Lawson, Dani Sullivan, Jessie Mackie, Brittany Westmoreland, Courtney Kieffer, Faith Sanders and Kendra Lowe.
The Trojans will be one of four teams from the Sun Belt competing in the South Regional in Hoover, Ala., on Saturday.
Among the three Troy runners will be sophomore Enock Kirui, who was the lone Trojan to earn All-Conference honors when he crossed the line sixth overall with a time of 25:24.7 in the 8K race. He finished just six seconds out of the top five and just 22 seconds out of a top three finish on the year. Enock Kirui has been a leader on the men's team with two first-place finishes and a top-five finish at the FSU Invitational.
On the women's side, senior Sylvia Chirchir just missed out on her second consecutive All-Conference finish as she completed the race just outside the top 10 this season. Chirchir crossed the line 11th overall with a time of 18:45.7, finishing just two seconds out of the top 10 and behind North Texas runner Sara Dietz. The senior stepped up and finished the regular season with a win at Troy's host tournament, the Coach O Invitational.
Also representing Troy at the Regionals this year will be senior Agnes Kapsoiyo, who finished the conference meet 22nd overall with a time of 19:24.3.
Western Kentucky had yet another strong showing in the SBC Championships this season and look to continue their success in national competition. The Hilltoppers took the first and second place individual finishes in both the men's and women's races. The women's team earned their fifth consecutive team title with three runners placing in the top 10 to earn All-Conference honors.
Senior Marion Kandie won the women's individual title, giving the Lady Toppers their fourth consecutive women's individual winner. The junior finished the 5K race at a time of 17:34.3. Runner-up Vasity Chemweno, also from WKU, clocked in a time of 17:43.5. Also finishing in the top 10 for the Lady Toppers was Michelle Finn, who tied at fourth place at a time of 18.01.0. All five runners from WKU placed in the top 20.
Kandie has consistently led the Lady Toppers all season, including placing 38th at the Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., in the 6,000-meter white race with a time of 21:08.5. Also breaking the 22-minute barrier for the women was Finn, who clocked a time of 21:44.0.