SLC commissioner Tom Burnett presents Lauren Smith with her all-conference plaque after she claimed the SLC individual title.
Oct. 31, 2011
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Lauren Smithbroke her own course record and became the first Ladyjack since 2005 to claim the Southland Conference individual crown on Monday morning at the 2011 Southland Conference Cross Country Championships at Piney Woods Country Club.
Smith's win headlined a sixth-place finish overall for the SFA women with Randi Plentl also joining Smith with a high finish, taking third place overall. As for the men, Nathan Collierpaced the Lumberjacks, who finished fourth overall, just nine points behind third-place Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
"Lauren has just been so good all year, and she ran a very good race today," SFA head cross country coach Cody Clarksaid. "We knew she had a very good chance to win it all this year, and I couldn't be happier to see her do that."
Smith had no problems in erasing the memory of a second-place finish a year ago, pacing out her first mile before breaking away from the pack and crossing the finish line just as the rest of the competitors were finally making the turn onto the final straightaway. The junior finished in a time of 20:57.3 for the 5,000-meter race, bettering her own course record by nearly 40 seconds that she set at the SLC Pre-Conference Meet earlier this season.
"I felt good at the one-mile mark, so I thought I'd take a chance and break away," Smith said following the win. "This really feels good because it just seems like I was finishing second and third every time, so to get a first-place win at conference feels really good."
Her win is the sixth all-time individual league title by a Ladyjack, and the first since Ashley Monteau took the second of back-to-back league titles in 2005.
Meanwhile, Plentl closed strong to secure a third-place finish of her own, finishing in 21:47.5 to edge Texas State's Steffanie Armstrong just before the finishing tape.
Laurie Byrd was the next Ladyjack to finish, posting a 22:25.4 time for 21st place, followed by Becca Blubaugh in 63rd place with a time of 24:10.1. De'Andrea Rouwtt posted a 24:50.3 in the 74th spot to round out the SFA scoring, and Amanda Waltersfinished in 25:23.7.
In all, the Ladyjacks totaled 156 points, 33 points behind fifth-place UT-Arlington.
For the men, it marked the third consecutive season that SFA finished fourth, and the 15th consecutive season in which the Lumberjacks have finished in no lower than fourth place at the conference meet.
SFA put its top four runners within the top 20, all finishing within 30 seconds of one another, led by Collier's 14th-place finish in a time of 25:43.5 for the 8,000-meter course.
"The guys did a great job of running in a pack today," Clark said. "We had a couple of guys just get out too fast and it cost us in the end; but still, to have four guys within 30 seconds of each other, that's what we want to see."
Adam Saloom was next in 17th place in a time of 25:50.3, nearly 30 seconds faster than his time at the SLC Pre-Conference Meet in which he was SFA's top finisher. Hunter Russell and Moses Luevanowere next in line, crossing in 19th and 20th place, respectively, with times of 26:09.4 and 26:12.4.
Harmon McClanahanwas 32nd overall among the 83 competitors in a time of 26:26.3 to round out SFA's scorers.
Also, Ryan Tilotta ran a 26:40.7 to finish 35th, while Jonus Rodriguezcrossed in 26:58.3 for a 38th-place finish of his own.
Both the Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks will get some time off before moving on to the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 12th in Waco, Texas.