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Cross Country Teams Prepare For Championships

October 28, 2009
By cnp
Posted in Athletics

Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks cross country teams will head to Mississippi College for the 2009 American Southwest Conference Cross Country Championships this weekend.

The race in Clinton, Mississippi, will take place October 31 at Choctaw Trails.

The women will run a 6K and begin at 8:30 a.m., while the men will run an 8K with a start time of 9:15 a.m. The course is expected to be a bit muddy due to large amounts of rain recently in the Clinton area.

The 13-team women’s field consists of Concordia Texas, East Texas Baptist, Hardin-Simmons, LeTourneau, Louisiana College, McMurry, Mississippi College, Ozarks, Schreiner, Sul Ross State, Texas-Dallas, Texas-Tyler and Texas Lutheran. Mississippi College enters as back-to-back champions and has won three of the last four conference crowns. Texas-Tyler was the runner-up in 2008. MC’s Kellie Kirby won the individual crown last season with a mark of 24:36.60 but has graduated.

McMurry’s Carla Lewis has posted the top 6K time in the conference this season with a 24:00 flat. Texas-Tyler runners Jessica Waninger (24:16.64), Ginny Murphy (24:16.91) and Sarah Hankla (24:36.06) occupy the next three top spots, while MC’s Jennifer Cooper owns the fifth-best time with a 24:47. Texas-Tyler has won two events this season (ULM Warhawk Invitational and University of Dallas Meet) and McMurry has posted one team victory (NCAA Division III Texas State Championships).

The 12-team men’s field will be composed of Concordia Texas, East Texas Baptist, Hardin-Simmons, LeTourneau, Louisiana College, McMurry, Mississippi College, Ozarks, Schreiner, Sul Ross State, Texas-Dallas and Texas-Tyler, which is the four-time defending conference champion. The Patriots accounted for five of the top 10 spots in 2008 with senior Warren Brown leading the way (26:06). Only Philbert Mutuyimana and Ross Renfroe are back for Texas-Tyler. McMurry finished in second place.

McMurry’s Ken Wheeler (25:51.62) and Brad Mullens (27:15.60) have the top two 8K times in the conference this year. Texas-Tyler’s Jeff Chandler owns the third and fifth spots with times of 27:24 and 27:36, respectively, while Renfroe has the fourth-best mark with a 27:29.86. Texas-Tyler has recorded two team wins this season (UT Tyler Invitational and ULM Warhawk Invitational), while Texas-Dallas has registered one (Hardin-Simmons Collegiate).

“We are excited, as always, to have the ASC meet at Mississippi College,” Mississippi College head coach Butch Ard said. “We feel like Choctaw Trails is one of the premier courses in the country, and it gives all student-athletes the best possible experiences for running races. But we have had an extreme amount of rain the past three weeks, and the course and parking is extremely muddy and sloppy – so bring your boots!”

NOTES: Free admission. . . . The awards presentation will be at 10 a.m. . . . The last time Mississippi College served as the host of the ASC Championships was in 2005. . . . Mississippi College has won the most combined ASC cross country team (14) and individual (13) titles. . . . The NCAA Division III Cross Country South/Southeast Regional Championships, which is an open meet, will take place on Nov. 14 and will be hosted by Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.