Sept. 28, 2007
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -
The Stephen F. Austin cross country program raced out to a solid start Friday evening in the Islander Splash as both the men and the women finished third in the preview to next month's Southland Conference Championships. Each squad placed three runners inside the top 20. The Ladyjacks posted a team score of 91, wile the Lumberjacks finished with 103 points.
"Across the board, for the first race out, I'm pretty happy with how we did," SFA coach Lou Snelling said. "I think there's a lot of room for improvement on both sides, but we're in a position now where we're just going to keep getting better."
Senior Katrina Nicholas led the way for the women's team, finishing fifth among collegians with a time of 17:52. She was the first Southland Conference runner to finish the 5,000-meter course.
"For Katrina, running under 18 minutes in her first race of the season is awesome," Snelling said. "She's in a great position to be all-conference when we come back here in a month for the SLC Championships."
Behind Nicholas, redshirt freshman Amy Shackelford made a solid collegiate debut, finishing 15th with a time of 18:41.
"For her first time running in uniform, Amy ran a really solid race," Snelling said. "She's a runner who is going to keep on improving as we go through the season. We definitely haven't seen her best race yet."
Sophomore Chelsea Bradford chased Shackelford with a 20th-place time of 19:00. True freshman Meredith Blocker finished two spots behind her with a time of 19:04. Senior Kirsten Wieseman was the fifth Ladyjack to finish. She crossed the line in 29th place with a time of 19:29.
Sophomore Heather Adams (19:38), redshirt freshman Megan Jenkins (19:53) and sophomore Breeka Johnson (20:19) rounded out the SFA women's runners, finishing 32nd, 37th and 42nd, respectively.
SFA's Ashley Monteau ran unattached and broke up a University of Texas sweep in the top four by finishing third with a time of 17:48.
"That's a very solid start for our women's team, and I think it bodes well for later in the season," Snelling said.
In the men's race, true freshman Dennis Yeats earned the first uniformed run of his career and proved he deserved it. Yeats finished 12th with a time of 27:06 in the 8,000-meter race. The freshman kept pace with SFA's unattached junior Keith Mahipala the entire race, a feat that impressed Snelling.
"Dennis ran right with Keith and was actually beating him for much of the race," the coach said. "For a true freshman, that's a great run and a great start to the season."
Mahipala finished 10th with a time of 26:56.
Junior Gerardo Moreno and Cole Hollingsworth were the next two SFA runners to cross the finish. Moreno was 15th with a time of 27:18, while Hollingsworth finished on his heels in 16th with a time of 27:20.
"G and Cole both had solid days," Snelling said. "G has really stepped it up and run well, lately. Cole is still getting over some health issues, so he's really just getting started at this point. He's got a lot more in him."
Junior Aaron Hohn was 28th with a time of 27:56, and redshirt freshman Elliot Starcevich rounded out the Lumberjacks' scoring runners with a 35th-place time of 28:41.
True freshman Logan Smart ran unattached and would have been among SFA's scoring five with a 26th-place finish and time of 28:02. Classmates Sam Hulse (28:58) and Barak Mossbarger (31:55) finished 37th and 63rd, respectively, as unattached runners.
"Third place is pretty good for a start, especially with all the guys who ran unattached today," Snelling said. "If you plug in Keith and Logan, we're a lot closer to Corpus Christi (first place) and Rice (second).
"We had a lot of young kids run really well. We've just got to keep everybody on the same page and keep improving."
-- SFA --