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    Rodriguez, Smith Qualify For NCAA Championship
    The NCAA Cross Country championships will be Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky.
    The NCAA Cross Country championships will be Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky.

    Nov. 9, 2012

    Complete Meet Results

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Lauren Smith and Xavier Rodriguezeach earned automatic berths to the NCAA Champioships on Friday with their performances at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships at Agri Park.

    Smith finished sixth overall while Rodriguez was 11th; however, Rodriguez was the fourth finisher from a school other than Texas or Arkansas, the top two teams at the meet, therefore earning automatic team berths to the NCAAs.

    It is the first time since 2004 that SFA has sent representatives on both the men's and women's side to the NCAA Championships when Ashley Monteau and Julian Acunaeach qualified with Monteau also following it up with a trip to nationals a year later in 2005.

    "This is a big day for us as a team, and for both Lauren and Xavier," cross country coach Cody Clarksaid following the race. "Each of them are seniors and have put in countless hours to try and make this dream come true. I could not be happier for each of them to be able to go to Louisville and compete with the best in the nation."

    A senior from Lake Jackson, Texas, Smith just missed out on a ticket to nationals a year ago, finishing just one place from qualifying; however, things were different this time around as she finished the 6,000-meter course in 21:08.2 to secure her trip. Rodriguez finished the 10,000-meter men's race in 30:32.9. Smith is just the second Ladyjack ever to qualify for nationals, while Rodriguez is the fourth to do it on the men's side.

    Those performances highlighted what turned out to be stellar showings for both the men's and women's teams with the Lumberjacks finishing fifth overall and the Ladyjacks 10th.

    The Lumberjacks showing was its strongest showing of the season, finishing just 17 points behind Southland Conference champion McNeese State and 36 points of Lamar who entered the meet ranked in the region's top five.

    "The guys really ran well, like we knew they were capable of," Clark said. "We wanted to go out there and turn some heads and maybe try to pick off a confernce school or two who finished ahead of us two weeks ago, and to do that really is a nice bonus."

    Four of SFA's five scorers finished in the top 50 with Rodriguez leading the way. Senior Adam Saloom earned all-region honors with his 22nd-place finish in a time of 31:22.1. Each of the next three `Jacks finished within eight places of each other, starting with Jonus Rodriguez who finished 45th (32:34.4) out of 125 runners and followed by Moses Luevano in 49th (32:39.5) and Nick Guerra (32:41.7). Hunter Russellalso finished 110th (34:43.9).

    Meanwhile, aside from Smith, the Ladyjacks also got a solid performance from senior Randi Plentl, who finished 28th overall in her final cross country race, crossing the line in 22:02.6. Becca Blubaugh and Danielle Burchettwere the next scorers for SFA, finishing nearly side by side with Blubaugh in 75th place (23:20.5) and Burchett in 76th (23:21.7).

    Freshman Shelby Pesek rounded out the SFA scoring in 89th place with a time of 23:42.5. Other finishers for the Ladyjacks included Laurie Byrd in 110th (24:19.2) and Amanda Waltersin 120th place (24:42.0)

    "The girls did a great job as well and competed, which is what we always ask of them," Clark said. "I was especially happy for our seniors to run as well as they did."

    The NCAA Championships will take place at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., on November 17.