This weekend the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will hold its 2014 Cross Country Championship at Forest Park in St. Louis, Mo. The race is co-hosted by Fontbonne University and Webster University and will take place at Central Fields on Saturday, November 1. The men's 8K race is first and will start at 10:00 a.m. while the 6K women's race will begin at 10:45 a.m.
Principia College will be looking to defend their 2013 SLIAC men's title but will have to do so without three-time national qualifier Wylie Mangelsdorf who graduated last year after capturing the 2013 SLIAC individual title. The Panthers have been led by sophomore Nate Richards this season. Richards is on a roll entering the championship, having been named the SLIAC Player of the Week in each of the last two weeks. Richards best time this season was a 26:27 and has placed first for his team in four events. Richards finished 16th in last year's SLIAC Championships and will team with 2013 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year Shane Witters-Hicks as the Panthers seek a championship title. Principia has won two of the last three SLIAC Men's Cross Country Championships and five in program history.
Spalding University, who won the title in 2012, and placed second at the championships last year will be paced by junior Nathan Mark. Mark has three top finishes for his team with a season best time of 26:13. Mark placed 9th at the championships last year and will look to improve upon his time of 25:56. Greenville placed third at the championships last year and will be led by Andrew Sharp. Sharp, a freshman, has made an immediate impact for his team with three top finishes. He enters this weekend with a top time of 26:31 this season. Greenville has won a SLIAC record 12 championships and will be seeking their first title since 2010.
Westminster was fourth in the championships last season where Jesse Edwards picked up a sixth place finish individually. Edwards returns and will be joined in the field by teammate Glenn Tuebner who comes in with a team best time of 27:42 this season. Webster, who placed fifth last season, is led by Jason Hickson. Hickson, a senior, placed 10th at the championships last year and has twice won SLIAC Player of the Week honors this season. He comes in with a season best time of 25:59. Blackburn picked up a sixth place finish in the championships last year and will be led by Timothy Lay. Lay comes in with a top time of 29:56 this season.
The women's field will be defended by Westminster College. Westminster captured the program's first title at last year's championship and marked the third consecutive year the conference crowned a different champion. Brier Skogsberg is the top returner for the Blue Jays, placing 9th individually last year as a freshman. Joining her in defending the team's title will be newcomer Shannon McCaul. McCaul was named SLIAC Player of the Week once this year and has lead her team in top finishes with four this season. Taylor Howard and Claire Gibby join the field and have each recorded a time under 21:14 this season.
Greenville College was second in the championships last season and will be looking to add to their 14 SLIAC titles. Molly Works returns for the Panthers after finishing 8th in the championships last year. This season Works has paced the Panthers all season long and comes in with a best time of 24:11. Webster University and Principia College tied for third at the championship last season. Webster will need to replace their top three finishers from last year, who all graduated, and will be counting on Valerie Martin to step up. Martin has a top time of 24:08 this season including a first-place finish at the SIUE Challenge earlier this year.
Principia College will rely on defending SLIAC Runner of the Year, Sarah Litwiller. Litwiller finished first in the championships last year with a time of 22:00 flat, besting the nearest runner by 25-seconds. She has continued her dominance this season as she has been received four SLIAC Player of the Week honors. Litwiller will be looking to become the fourth repeat champion in SLIAC history.
Fontbonne comes into this year's championship led by Olivia Beggs. Beggs, placed 11th at last year's championship, and has consistently led her team this year and comes in with a season best time of 25:24. Spalding University will be led by Casey Richardson who finished 12th last year. Richardson was named Player of the Week once this year and has a season best time of 20:13 in a 5K race.