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XC CHAMPIONS: Women race to RSC title, men finish 2nd to claim spot at NAIA nationals

Photo by Kelly Parsley | Submitted Photo

Photo by Kelly Parsley | Submitted Photo

Written By Emily MacIntyre

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Last weekend the Pioneers came out on top at the 2017 River States Conference (RCS) Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championship at Asbury University in Kentucky.

The women’s team were the champions of the meet, coming in first place of 12 teams. Junior Anna Shields took first place with a time of 18 minutes, 22 seconds in the 5K, setting a new course record. Shields also won RSC’s Runner of the Year, while head coach Kelly Parsley won RSC Coach of the Year.

“I’m very proud of the team; I think that they handled the conditions well and didn’t let it intimidate them,” Shields said. “Kara Rohlf fell, and still finished 12th for an All-Conference spot.”

Junior Kara Rohlf was one of four other runners to earn all-conference honors, along with Shields, placing in 12th with a time of 20 minutes and 47 seconds. Just after freshmen Alyssa Boyd in ninth place with 20 minutes and 22 seconds and Kayla Roberts in 10th place with 20 minutes and 33 seconds and was followed by freshman Kylie Archibeque in 14th place with 21 minutes.

“For myself, I was reminded of why cross country is a world away from track.” Shields said. “Different runners are advantaged and disadvantaged by different courses. I’m much better on firm ground. I think the team as a whole ran better than ever, and it was a good day to do it.”

The Men’s team came in second place of 12 teams, also earning them a spot at nationals. Sophomore Xavier Stephens lead the team as the top runner coming in fifth place with a time of 27 minutes and 42 seconds followed by Chris Hunt in 10th place with a time of 28 minutes and 23 seconds and Desmond Marrow in 13th place with 28 minutes 27 seconds.

“It feels good, I did a lot of training in the summer and have improved a lot this year,” Xavier Stephens said when asked about being top runner.

“The course was pretty wet and muddy, a few people fell in the race,” Stephens said.

Conditions that day were unanimously declared not ideal by the runners.

“It was raining leading up to the day of the race, so the course was very muddy in parts, but thankfully the course wasn’t too torn up,” freshman Cole D’Alicandro said. “Obviously we would have liked to get first place as a team, but the guy’s team is so glad to have gotten second place. It felt great being on the team. I feel like everyone really made all of us freshmen and transfer students feel right at home.”

Both teams move on to compete next at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship meet in Vancouver, Wash. Nov. 18.

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