Cross Country Heads To C-USA Championship
Oct. 29, 2010
IRVING, Texas (Conference USA Release) - The East Carolina men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Tulsa, Okla., to take part in the 2010 Conference USA Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships. The event is set to take place Monday, Nov. 1, at the Indian Springs Country Club.
Admission is free with the women's 5K race beginning at 10:00 a.m. and the men's 8K at 11:00 a.m. After the completion of the men's event, team and individual awards will be distributed.
The first 21 men and women to cross the finish line will be named to the All-C-USA first (1-7), second (8-14), and third (15-21) teams. East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP each have a men's and women's team. SMU, Southern Miss UAB and UCF have women's teams only.
The Pirate men look to junior Zack Montijo, the 2008 Conference USA Freshman-of-the-Year, and sophomore Dillon Hawley to lead the way. On the women's side, junior Brittany Copeland was a Second-Team All-Conference USA selection in 2008 before redshirting a year ago. Juniors Amanda Lapp and Tara Wilson are also expected to turn in solid performances Monday. Both the men's and women's squads are a young, but deep. Neither team will travel with a senior to Tulsa.
Conference USA welcomes back 25 of 42 All-C-USA selections from a year ago, including the women's individual champion in UTEP sophomore All-America selection Risper Kimaiyo. After winning the league meet and finishing ninth at the NCAA Championship, she was named the 2009 C-USA Female Cross Country Athlete-of-the-Year, C-USA Freshman-of-the-Year and to the All-Mountain Region team.
UTEP's men, the 2009 C-USA Champion, return three all-conference selections from a year ago and will look to sophomores Elkana Rotich and Justice Chirchir to pace a young squad. The Miners only have one senior on the roster, Robert Menjo, to go along with three sophomores and one freshman. Rotich and Chirchir have each been named C-USA Cross Country Runner-of-the-Week twice this season. Carrying a No. 6 Mountain Region ranking into the championship, the Miners' five-member squad looks to win the program's fifth C-USA title in the past six years.
Tulsa, which finished second at the 2009 championship, will be without the service of its top three runners from a year ago. However, head coach Steve Gulley returns a trio of all-conference performers in senior Mark Davidson, junior Justin Duncan and sophomore Chris O'Hare. The Golden Hurricane enters the event ranked third in the Midwest Region.
Looking to move up from its third-place finish over the past four years is Rice. The Owls, which are No. 9 in the South Central Region, are young but well equipped with talent as 11 of the 12-member travel roster are underclassmen. Head coach Jon Warren will depend on All-C-USA third-teamers in junior Michael Trejo and sophomore Gabe Cuadra for the program's first C-USA Cross Country crown. Other male All-Conference runners returning to the course this season in hopes of winning the 2010 individual medalist honor include junior Mathew Schiffbauer of Marshall, Hawley and sophomore David Smith of Houston.
Tulsa, Rice and UTEP will be strong contenders for the 2010 women's championship title. The Golden Hurricane carries a No. 23 USTFCCCA national ranking and No. 4 Midwest Regional ranking into Monday's race. Coach Gilley returns three all-conference runners from a year ago in senior Melanie Cleland (first team), junior Paula Whiting (second team) and sophomore Jaclyn Rollins (third team).
Rice returns four all-conference finishers from the 2009 meet in senior Halsey Fowler and juniors Heather Olson, Johanna Ohm and Marie Thompson. The Owls, which are ranked No. 3 in the South Central Region, also have a strong leadership presence in seniors Nicole Mericle, Allison Pye and Brittany Williams.
The Miners are led by Kimaiyo and return four of the five runners that scored on last year's second-place team. Assisting the sophomore will be All-C-USA first-teamers in senior Gladys Chumba and junior Kathya Garcia. Head coach Paul Ereng also returns sophomore Karina Garcia, who looks to better her All-C-USA third team finish from a year ago. Kimaiyo, winner of three C-USA Cross Country Runner-of-the-Week honors, has carried the Miners to a No. 8 Mountain Regional ranking and hopes to guide the team to the program's first C-USA Women's Cross Country crown.
UAB won the conference title in 2006 and finished runner-up in 2005. Senior and all-conference performer Colleen Standridge as well as junior Rhiannon Johns will lead a very experienced Blazer club that's ranked No. 5 in the South Region.
Losing four of five scorers from last year's championship team, SMU women will field an extremely young squad Monday. Head coach Cathy Casey returns All-C-USA second-teamer in sophomore Mary Alenbratt. She is one of seven underclassmen on the Mustangs' traveling roster.
Tulane senior Julia Whitrock is the final All-C-USA runner from a year ago returning to the championship course. She was named C-USA Female Runner-of-the-Week on Sept. 28 after winning the LSU Invitational.