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SLIAC Cross Country Championship Preview

SLIAC Cross Country Championship Preview

This week's SLIAC Game of the Week is the Men's and Women's Cross Country Championship, featuring a field of eight men's and women's teams competing for the title.

At a Glance
The 2015 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Cross Country Championship will take place October 31 at Hillsboro Golf and Country Club in Hillsboro, Ill. This year's men's and women's races will feature eight programs on each side and include Blackburn College, Eureka College, Fontbonne University, Greenville College, Principia College, Spalding University, Webster University, and Westminster College. For directions to Hillsboro Golf and Country Club click HERE

Men's course layout (8K) - MAP

Women's course layout (6K) - MAP

About Blackburn
The Blackburn cross country teams last competed in the Illinois College Invitational two weeks ago where Jackob Thornton led the Beavers with a 24th place finish, with a time of 29:20. This season the Beavers have been led by Timothy Lacy, placing first on the team in three events. Lacy ran a season best time of 29:17 at the Cowbell Classic. Nathan Speckhart captured a top team finish as well this fall. On the women's side the Beavers' Catherine Young has four consecutive top team finishes including a best of 31:07 in her last outing. Makayla Grove led the Beavers in the first race of the season back in early September.

About Eureka
The Eureka program, under the direction of first year head coach Morgan Ryan, competed in five races this fall. On the men's side the Red Devils were led by Brandon Ceh. Ceh placed first for the Red Devils in three events, cutting over a minute off his time from the start of the season until his last race two weeks ago when he finished in a time of 29:20. The women's team was led by Riley Francis, who placed first on the team in each event. Francis consistently ran in the 27-minute mark with a season low of 27:08.

About Fontbonne
Fontbonne's fall has been led by the duo of Christopher Brown and Olivia Beggs. Brown recently picked up his team leading third top finish, completing his latest 8K race in a time of 28:50, his top time this season. Beggs meanwhile has four top team finishes this fall. She finished her last race, a 6K course at the Greater Louisville Classic, in a time of 20:28 to place 37th overall.
About Greenville
The Greenville men's cross country team has been led by Andrew Sharp who placed first for the Panthers in all six fall events this year. His times ranged from 26:48 to a low of 26:04 and is coming off a time of 26:12 at the Bradley Classic two weeks ago. On the women's side Molly Works and Brooke Goodyear have taken top times for the Panthers. Works has two top finishes with a best time of 23:48 while Goodyear has three top finishes.
About Principia
Shane Witters-Hicks has been a force this fall for the Panthers, capturing five top team finishes. Witters-Hicks has run two straight 8K races, starting with a 26:58 at the Cowbell Classic and then dropping his time to 26:44 in the Illinois College Classic two weeks ago. On the women's side Shontee Pant and Kyla Pelletier continue to battle each other at the top; with both claiming three top team finishes this fall. Pant took home three top team finishes and Pelletier added a pair of top finishes. Both runners finished below the 25-minute mark in their latest run, marking season lows.

About Spalding
The Spalding cross country teams have relied on Brandon Price and Kayla Payne this fall for some impressive performances. Price placed first among the Golden Eagles in four events with a season best time of 26:04 while Spencer Mitchell claimed the team's top spot in their last outing. Payne also had four top team finishes this fall with a low time of 20:14 however it was Jenna Johnston who had the team's lowest time of the fall with a 20:09 finish in their last outing two weeks ago.

About Webster
The Gorloks have been carried by Riley Flynn and Valerie Martin to have a historic fall season. Flynn and Martin led their teams in each race this past fall, each placing first among Gorloks in five events. Flynn has hovered around the 27-minute mark in his last three races including a personal best time of 26:59. Martin meanwhile holds four of the Gorloks top ten times in program history. She is coming off a 23:50 finish in her last outing.

About Westminster
The Westminster runners have been busy this fall with six races including the Illinois College Classic in their tuneup for this week's Championship. Jesse Edwards, a two-time First Team All-Conference runner, returns to action after sitting out two weeks ago. Glenn Teubner had the best team performance in their last race, placing 10th with a time of 27:27. The Blue Jays women's team has been led by Brier Skogsberg, with four top team finishes while Taylor Howard two top honors including the last race with a time of 24:32.

Championship Notes

  • Spalding is the defending SLIAC Men's Champion while Greenville is the defending women's champion.
  • Greenville has won a men's record 12 SLIAC Championships and will be looking for their first title since the 2010 season.
  • The Greenville women's program also holds the conference record for championships with 15 and be looking to become the first repeat winner since they won six straight from 2004-09.
  • Principia has dominated the individual titles recently with Wylie Mangelsdorf and Nate Richards winning the last two Runner of the Year titles on the men's side and Casey Powell and Sarah Litwiller each capturing back-to-back titles on the women's side.
  • Who to Watch: On the men's side 9 of the top 14 finishers return from last year's championship; headed by a trio that finished within five seconds of each other. Greenville's Andrew Sharp took 2nd last year and was followed three seconds later by Spalding's Nathan Mark. Brandon Price placed 4th just two seconds after his teammate. Also looking to challenge for top spots will be Westminster's Jesse Edwards, Principia's Shane Witters-Hicks and Zach Matthiesen, and Spalding's Tyler Edmondson. 
  • Who to Watch: On the women's side 10 of last year's top 14 finishers from the SLIAC Championships return. Webster's Valerie Martin and Greenville's Molly Works should be among the top challengers for the individual title, with both finishing in the top three last year. In addition Westminster's Claire Gibby, Greenville's Jordie File and Brooke Goodyear, and Fontbonne's Olivia Beggs all finished in the top 10 at the championships last year.
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