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    Smith, Rodriguez Lead SFA At Chile Pepper Festival
    Xavier Rodirugez was the top SFA finisher on Saturday at the Chile Pepper Festival.
    Xavier Rodirugez was the top SFA finisher on Saturday at the Chile Pepper Festival.

    Oct. 13, 2012

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack and Ladyjack cross country teams each put forth good showings against stiff competition on Saturday at the Chile Pepper Festival hosted by the University of Arkansas.

    The Ladyjacks, led by Lauren Smith's eighth-place finish, came in 11th overall out of 43 teams with 326 and finished as the top Southland squad, bettering league rival Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by 10 spots in the standings. On the men's side SFA finished seventh out of 34 squads with 227 points, led by Xavier Rodriguez's 15th place finish, and was second only to the Islanders among the five Southland schools in the competition.

    "I'm very pleased with the way we ran today," cross country coach Cody Clark said. "It was a big confidence boost for the girls to finish ahead of some of the stronger teams in our conference, and that's the same on the men's side. We got to run against some tough competition, and to come out the way we did, that shows well for what we have to do in two weeks at conference."

    Smith completed the 6,000-meter course in 21:10.2, coming in as the third-highest finisher among competitors form the South Central Region on the same course that will host the NCAA South Central Regional meet. Randi Plentl also ran strong, coming in 28th overall in a time of 22:01.8 and sophomore Laurie Byrd ran one of her stronger races of the season, crossing in 23:00.1 to finish in 91st place out of 340 competitors.

    Danielle Burchett, a converted mid-distance runner in her first year on the cross country squad, was SFA's fourth finisher of the day, coming in 100th place in 23:05.5, while Becca Blubaugh rounded out the scoring in 133rd place in a time of 23:36.4.

    Freshman Shelby Pesek did not score, but finished 146th in a time of 23:43.3, and Amanda Walters was 227th with a time of 25:00.5.

    For the men, Rodriguez was second among Southland runners to cross the line, doing so in 15th place to pace the Lumberjacks in a time of 30:54.2 over the 10,000-meter layout. Adam Saloomwas next in 48th place out of 313 runners with a time of 32:06.4.

    Hunter Russell and Nick Guerra were third and fourth on the squad, on each other's heels with 61st and 62nd-place finishes. Russell finished in 32:21.5 and Guerra 32:22.4. Jonus Rodriguez finished out the scoring for the Lumberjacks in 102nd place in a time of 32:57.7.

    SFA will take off two weeks before taking part in its biggest race of the season, the Southland Conference meet in Beaumont on Oct. 26.

    -SFA-

      COMING SOON