C-USA Set For First Fall Championship
Oct. 24, 2012
IRVING, Texas - Conference USA and University of Southern Miss are set to host to the 2012 C-USA Cross Country Championships at the Pine Belt National Golf Course Monday, Oct. 29, in Moselle, Miss. This marks the first time since 2002 that Southern Miss has served as the host school for the cross country championships.
The women's 5K race is scheduled for a 9 a.m. CT start, while the men's 8K race will begin at 10 a.m. An awards ceremony will follow the championships at 11 a.m. Admission is free.
East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, and UTEP each have men's and women's teams. SMU, Southern Miss, UAB and UCF have women's teams only.
Defending women's champion SMU returns two of the five scorers from last year's squad. Topping the group is the team's only senior, MARY ALENBRATT. In addition, the Mustang's roster boasts two juniors, two sophomores and seven freshmen. This youthful group is coming off of a third-place finish at the prestigious Chile Pepper Invitational Oct. 13. Alenbratt clocked a 5K time of 21:14.4 at the meet. SMU enters the conference championship ranked third in the South Central Region.
The two-time defending C-USA men's champion is Tulsa. The 19th-ranked Golden Hurricane also won the league title in 2008 and has not finished lower than third since joining the league in 2005. Head Coach STEVE GULLEY welcomes back track All-American and 2012 NCAA indoor mile champion CHRIS O'HARE to the course. The junior led Tulsa to the team title and top medalist honors at the Notre Dame Invitational where he clocked a 8K time of 23:33.
The women's field will have a completely new look as 12 of the 21 all-conference honorees from a year ago have exhausted their eligibility.
Headline this group is All-American and two-time C-USA individual champion RISPER KIMAIYO of UTEP. The senior distance specialist captured top honors in 2010 and 2009, while finishing second last season to SMU's Silje Fjortoft. Kimaiyo is coming off of a personal best 5K performance of 19:46.0 at the NCAA Pre-National meet. She enters the meet with four C-USA Athletes of the Week honors this season and 15 for her stellar career.
Other title contenders include SARAH HUDAK of UAB, STEPHANIE LEDGERWOOD of Southern Miss and Alenbratt.
Tulsa is the lone C-USA men's team currently ranked in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Top 30 poll, checking in at No. 19. The Golden Hurricane is also the highest ranked regional team at No. 3 in the Midwest Region, followed by Rice and UTEP at No. 6 in the South Central and Mountain Regions, respectively. Memphis appears at No. 9 in the South. The Miners have won four C-USA championships and will be strong contenders for the 2012 title.
Freshman ANTHONY ROTICH of UTEP and O'Hare of Tulsa are expected to be the front runners for medalist accolades as both have turned in stellar performances during the regular season. Rotich earned C-USA Athlete of the Week honors three times while O'Hare picked up the award Oct. 2. Rotich season highlight was winning the NCAA Pre-National meet with a career best 8K time of 23:01.1.
Other title contenders are ELKANA ROTICH of UTEP and Tulsa's PAULO PINHEIRO and ANDREW HEYES. Only 11 of the 21 all-conference award winners from 2011 will toe up at the starting line Monday.
In addition to SMU women's No. 3 ranking in the South Central Region, Rice appears 11th in the same poll. Tulsa ranks sixth in the Midwest while East Carolina is 14th in the Southeast. The Golden Hurricane returns four of five scorers from the 2011 squad that finished second.
The Top 21 finishers earn all-conference honors as first through seventh place are on the first team, eighth through 14th are second teamers and the third team is comprised of the 15th-21st place.
The official meet results and photo galleries will be available on the league's website at ConferenceUSA.com on the Cross Country Championship Central page. For real time results, go to www.flashresultstexas.com/2012/cusaxc12. Complete coverage of the event will also be available on the C-USA Digital Network.
DIRECTIONS TO THE PINE BELT NATIONAL GOLF COURSE IN MOSELLE, MISS.
From South (Gulfport/Biloxi)
From the Southwest (New Orleans Airport)
From the Southeast (Mobile, Ala.)
From Northeast (Meridian, Miss.)