2011 SLIAC Men's & Women's Cross Country Championships Preview
ST. LOUIS – The 2011 SLIAC Men's & Women's Cross Country Championships will take place this Saturday, October 29, at the Hillsboro Country Club & Park District in Hillsboro, Ill. The first race is scheduled to start at 10:00am.
Principia College will look to repeat as Women's Conference Champions. Principia dethroned Greenville College in 2010 after the Panthers had won six straight team Championships. Principia is led by junior Casey Powell, who will be in the running for the Individual Conference title. Powell, who was First Team All-SLIAC last season, posted the top 6K time among the SLIAC women this season with 23:16.8 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational hosted by Augustana College (Ill.). She has four of the top five times on a 6K course in 2011.
Principia's Emily Osborne (So.) and Alyssa Cheatham (Sr.) also return from last year's championship squad. Osborne was a First Team All-SLIAC honoree and has posted two top 15 times on a 6K course this season among the SLIAC women. Her best time was 24:37 at the Illinois College Invitational. Cheatham returns after earning Second Team All-SLIAC honors last season.
Westminster College sophomore Sarah Koestner posted the second-best time this season, also at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational with a time of 23:28.0. She earned First Team All-SLIAC last year and finished with two top 15 times throughout the 2011 season. Junior Kaily Downey posted the 10th top time among the SLIAC women on a 6K course with a time of 24:40.9 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational.
Webster could make a push for the team title in 2011. The Gorloks had four different runners post a top 15 time among the SLIAC women this season. Sophomore Heather Heisse, who had two top 15 times and was Second Team All-SLIAC in 2010, recorded the top time for the Gorloks with 24:24 at the Rhodes Invitational. Sophomore Julie Greenough and freshman Kassandra Ochoa posted top times of 24:32 and 24:56 respectively at the Illinois College Invitational, while junior Jane McKibben had two top 15 times with a best of 24:58 at the Rhodes Invitational. McKibben was also Second Team All-SLIAC last season.
Greenville has a tradition of producing strong teams and could have an advantage on their home course, but the Panthers will be running a young squad. Freshman Suzanne Ford and sophomore Rosie Nelson have led the Panthers at two of the top Invitationals this season; the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational and Brooks Invitational.
On the men's side, Principia College senior Drew Clark will look to repeat as the SLIAC Men's Runner of the Year. He did post the top 8K time among the SLIAC men this season with 25:14.1 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational hosted by Augustana College (Ill.). He also holds four of the top 16 times this season. Teammate Wylie Mangelsdorf, a sophomore, joins Clark as one of the top runners this year. Mangelsdorf earned Newcomer of the Year honors in 2010 and posted four of the top 16 times this year, including the second and third top times. His top time was 25:20.9 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational. Also helping Principia this season will be sophomore Derrick Fleming, who earned First Team All-SLIAC last year. Fleming has two of the top 16 times on an 8K course in 2011, with his top time of 26:11 at the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships.
Spalding University's Abram Deng, a junior, will challenge for the individual title. He has run extremely well this season with the No. 5 top time of 25:30.30 that he recorded at the Wilmington College Fall Classic.
Greenville College recaptured the SLIAC Championship in 2010 after Fontbonne University had taken over for two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009. Greenville has won 12 Men's Cross Country Championships, including 11 straight from 1996-2007. The Panthers will be led by senior Xavier Ortiz, who was First Team All-SLIAC in 2010. Ortiz has recorded two of the top 16 times on an 8K course among the SLIAC men this season. He had a time of 25:55.7 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational. Sophomore Bryan Simpson, a Second Team All-SLIAC honoree last season, also returns and will look to help his squad repeat with a team title. Simpson, along with teammates Ross Baker (Jr.) and Coree Woltering (Sr.), all posted top 16 times in the SLIAC this year. Simpson and Woltering recorded times of 26:22.2 and 26:25.0 respectively at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational, while Baker had a time of 26:24 at the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships.