Santa Teresa, N.M. - For the third-consecutive year, the third-ranked UTEP men captured the Conference USA Cross Country Championship title, while the 16th-ranked Rice women wins their second title in the last three years Saturday at the Santa Teresa Country Club in Santa Teresa, N.M. The one-day event was hosted by UTEP at the scenic Santa Teresa Country Club Spanish Dagger course. UTEP recorded a championship record with a perfect 15 points, while the Rice women tallied 26 points for top honors.
Tulsa men, who's ranked 17th in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Poll, finished second in back-to-back years with 42 points, while Rice took third (110 points) and Marshall placed fourth (116 points). Houston, UCF, East Carolina and Memphis rounded out the men's championship race.
For the first time ever, a program swept the top five positions as UTEP men finished the 8K course in 1-2-3-4-5 fashion, taking All-C-USA first-team merits. UTEP set the C-USA mark in 2005 with 23 points and improved upon that at last year's championship recording 21 points.
Senior Stephen Samoei edged two-time defending individual champion and teammate Patrick Mutai for top honors with an 8K time of 24:40.7. Mutai, a junior, crossed the finish line in a time of 25:02.3, followed by teammates Nicodemus Ng'etich (25:05.7), who earned 2006 C-USA Newcomer and Freshman of the Year accolades, Japheth Ng'ojoy (25:07.3) and Dominic Tanui (25:14.3). Samoei was named the 2005 and 2006 C-USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year, after earning NCAA All-America accolades.
Tulsa took eight of the following 10 spots and had four named to each of the second and third all-conference teams. Earning second team all-league accolades were juniors John Beattie (25:20.1) and Edwin Henshaw (25:38.5) and sophomore Lewis Timmins (25:43.0) who placed sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively. Senior Joel Stanloski repeated his All-C-USA second team merit with a 10th-place time of 26:07.9. Sophomore Eric Harris (11th/26:10.6), senior Brett Turowski (12th/26:28.4), senior Jay Matlack (14th/26:41.5) and sophomore Kyle Dekker (15th/26:46.6) finished in the top 15 for third team honors.
Houston senior Steven Magness also earned all-conference honors as he placed ninth with a time of 25:49.8 for second team, while junior Travis Epling of Marshall earned third team merits with a 13th-place time of 26:34.1. Marshall's Eric Frohnapfel earned C-USA Freshman of the Year honors after finishing 28th with a 27:39.6 mark.
The nationally-ranked Rice women entered the championship as the only C-USA team ranked among the USTFCCA top 30. The Owls took six of the top 15 spots, including three on the first team. Taking top individual honors with ease was Tulsa junior Alex Becker who crossed the finish line with a time of 17:34.6. SMU's Silje Fjortoft was named C-USA Freshman of the Year after finishing second with a time of 17:46.0.
Rice took the next three spots of the top five as senior Marissa Daniels (17:50.3), freshman Allison Pye (18:07.0) and freshman Becky Wade (18:20.1) earned first-team All-C-USA honors. Senior Callie Wells (18:22.2), sophomore Nicole Mericle (18:26.5) and senior Lennie Waite (18:48.6) placed sixth, eighth and 10th, respectively, for second team accolades. Rice head coach Jim Bevan was named the 2007 C-USA women's cross country coach of the year. Daniels, Mericle and Waite repeated as all-conference honorees from a year ago.
Tulsa women took second-place with 54 points, followed by SMU's 105 and UAB's 118 points for third and fourth place showings, respectively. UTEP placed fifth (124), while Tulane (152), UCF (196), East Carolina (214), Memphis (267), Marshall (274), Houston (280) and Southern Miss (302) followed.
Becker led the Golden Hurricane pack but was assisted by sophomore Lana Kelley's second team all-conference performance of 18:41.4 for ninth-place. Finishing 12th and 13th and earning third team all-league merits were a pair of freshmen in Ashlea Gilfillan (18:55.2) and Laura Englehutt (18:56.5), respectively.
Other all-conference selections were UAB senior and the 2005 individual champion Elizabeth Ambrus. Ambrus, who didn't run in the 2006 meet due to injury, placed seventh for second-team honors with a time of 18:23.5, while junior Jessa Simmons (11th/18:41.4) of SMU, UTEP senior Kelly Young (14th/18:41.4) and Tulane freshman Laurie Dalrymple (15th/18:41.4) were third team all-conference honorees.
Six freshmen women recorded all-conference performances, followed by five seniors, two sophomores and two juniors.
The men's race was dominated by the upperclassmen as 11 of the top 15 runners were either seniors (5) or juniors (6). Four sophomores also clocked all-conference times.
Next up for C-USA teams will be regional competition on Nov. 10.
|2007 C-USA Women's Cross Country Results|
|2007 C-USA Men's Cross Country Results|
2007 C-USA Individual Champions
Alex Becker, Tulsa (women)
Stephen Samoei, UTEP (men)
2007 C-USA Freshman of the Year
Silje Fjortoft, SMU (women)
Eric Frohnapfel, Marshall (men)
2007 C-USA Coach of the Year
Jim Bevan, Rice (women)
Paul Ereng, UTEP (men)