East Carolina Set To Host C-USA Tournament
For More Information on the championships
Oct. 26, 2006
GREENVILLE, N.C. The 2006 Conference USA Cross Country Championships will be held in Greenville, N.C., and hosted by East Carolina at Lake Kristi on Saturday, Oct. 28. The championships will feature the women's 5K race at 10:30 a.m. (ET), to be followed by the men's 8K race at 11:30 a.m. (ET). Nine runners will compete from each men's and women's team.
This is the second time that East Carolina is hosting the C-USA championships at Lake Kristi. The last time ECU hosted the C-USA Championships was in 2001 when the men finished ninth and the women placed fifth.
The Pirates, led by Nicole Briggs on the women's squad and Stephen Tausend on the men's, will look for their first Conference-USA title. The highest finish for both the men and women's teams is fifth place, which occurred in 2004 and 2001, respectively.
The first 15 men and women to cross the finish line at the conference championships will be named to the C-USA All-Conference first (5), second (5) and third (5) teams. East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Tulsa, UCF and UTEP each have a men's and women's team. SMU, Southern Miss Tulane and UAB have women's teams only.
The 2006 C-USA cross country championship is shaping up to be one of the strongest in recent years as four men's and four women's teams are ranked in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association polls.
On the men's side, UTEP holds a No. 4 national ranking and a No. 1 Mountain Region ranking. The Miners have won all four meets they have competed in this season. In the South Central Region, Rice is currently ranked sixth and Houston 12th, while followed by Tulsa's 10th place ranking in the Midwest.
The Rice women rank the highest in the conference as the Owls are fourth in the USTRCCCA South Central Region poll, followed by SMU's seventh place ranking in the same region. UAB appears at No. 8 in the South Region and Tulsa is No. 9 in the Midwest Region. Earlier in the season UAB was receiving top 25 votes but currently no C-USA women's cross country team appears among the national Top 25.
Last year's titles went to two new members of C-USA as UTEP captured the men's crown and Rice won the women's.
Third-year head coach Paul Ereng has a young but talented UTEP team. Leading the No. 4 Miners is junior All-American and 2005 C-USA's Runner of the Year Stephen Samoei. Samoei is the only upperclassmen on a squad of four sophomores and one freshman. Samoei has finished in the top 10 in every race this season, including winning the Lobo Invitational and placing second at the Kachina Classic. However, sophomore Patrick Mutai won the 2005 C-USA individual title with a winning time of 23:35, followed by teammates Japheth Ng'ojoy finishing third in 23:41 and Samoei placed fourth with a time of 23:42. Only Eliud Njubi of TCU owns a better 8K championship time of 23:09 in 2001. UTEP finished second at the NCAA Mountain Regional, qualifying the Miners for the 2005 NCAA Championship for the first time in 13 years, where they finished 14th. UTEP has won 15 overall conference titles (14 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference and one in C-USA).
Rice is the reigning champion on the women's side as the Owls won their first C-USA title and fourth overall conference crown in cross country last season. Rice claimed three of the top five places at the 2005 championship, including second- and third-place finishers Kate Gorry (17:04) and Callie Wells (17:14), respectively. Marissa Daniels finished fifth in 17:22.
Elizabeth Ambrus became the first UAB runner to win an individual title at a Conference USA Championship. The Arlington Heights, Ill., native won the 5K event in a career-best time of 17:02, two seconds ahead of Gorry. Only Hanne Lyngstad of Tulane owns a better 5K championship performance. Lyngstad crossed the finish line in 16:43.2 in 1999. Ambrus, the 2005 C-USA Athlete of the Year, has won an individual title and finished second in two of the three meets she competed in this fall. The senior has not been in action since Sept. 23.
Ambrus earned 2005 All-South Region honors after placing eighth in a 6K time of 20:53.12, followed by finishing 57th at the NCAA Championship, recording a career-best time of 20:45.1. Ambrus has been named the recipient of the C-USA Athlete of the Week five times in her career.
For complete 2006 Conference USA Cross Country results following the championships, visit the league's official website at www.ConferenceUSA.com.
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