The UNCG men’s and women’s cross country teams head to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Southeast Regional Friday afternoon. The event will take place at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park with the women’s 6,000-meter race to start at noon followed by the men’s 10,000-meter race at 1 p.m.
The Spartans last competed on October 31 as the Blue and Gold hosted the Southern Conference Cross Country Championships at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, N.C. The women’s team finished fifth overall, with two All-Conference performances.
Redshirt sophomore Eira Jensen (Alsvag, Norway/Sortland Videregaende Skole) and junior Katlyn Ayers (Fort Valley, Va./Strasburg) were the Spartans’ top finishers, placing 11th and 13th overall respectively to earn Second Team All-SoCon accolades.
Jensen finished the 5,000-meter race in a time 17:37.98, just missing a top 10 finish. Her time of 17:37.98 improved over a minute from last year’s SoCon Championship race, which saw her win SoCon All-Freshman Team honors with a time of 18:48.15. Ayers also improved dramatically from this race last year as her time of 17:47.38 was good for 13th place this year after posting a time of 19:37.04 in last year’s championship.
The men’s team finished seventh overall, and Geoffrey Korir (Eldoret, Kenya) earned Southern Conference All-Freshman Team honors with his 31st place finish. Senior Brandon Cain (Graham, N.C./Coker College) was the Spartans’ second finisher in 34th place with a new personal-best time of 26:13.46. Cain trimmed over 30 seconds off his previous top time in the 8,000-meter distance set at the Panorama Farms Invitational last fall (26:46.80).
In 2013, former Spartan Paul Chelimo became the program’s first ever NCAA Regional Cross Country champion as he won the 10,000-meter race with a personal-record and UNCG program-record time of 28:37.30. Teammate Paul Katam also advanced to the NCAA Championship with a seventh place overall finish.
Chelimo’s time of 28:37.30 was almost a minute shorter than his previous program-record time of 29:29.80 set at the 2012 NCAA Championships where he finished seventh overall. Katam finished in 29:00.90 to become the fourth and final qualifier from the region.
Last season, the women’s team finished 11th overall in the NCAA Southeast Regional with 317 points. The Spartans placed four runners in the top 100 of the field and also set four personal records in the 6,000-meter distance.
Shaina Sumney led the Spartans with a 15th place showing as she set a personal-best time in the 6,000-meter race. Sumney finished with a time of 20:56.9, trimming 20 seconds off her previous top time of 21:17.79 set earlier this season at the Pre-Nationals.
Lydia Saina (Eldoret, Kenya/Kapkenda Girls School) finished second on the team and 51st overall with a time of 21:44.50. Saina continued her vast improvement from her freshman campaign as she time dropped 1:34 from her mark at the NCAA Regionals in 2012 at 23:18.33.
Chelsea Sumney placed 59th overall with a time of 21:54.0. Redshirt freshman Katherine Link (Avon Lake, Ohio/Avon Lake) ran her second career 6,000-meter race and posted a career-best time of 22:23.2, trimming 46 seconds off her time form the Pre-Nationals race earlier in 2013.
37 men’s teams and 41 women’s teams are set to compete on Friday. The top two teams from each region will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Saturday Nov. 22.
2014 NCAA Southeast Regional Roster-Women’s
2014 NCAA Southeast Regional Roster-Men’s