Point Lookout, MO: The Running Eagles of Alice Lloyd College, under the guidance of Coach Brandon Arnold, traveled to Point Lookout, Missouri to compete in the NCCAA Division II National Cross Country Championship meet hosted by College of the Ozarks.
On race day, nerves were high, but everything settled once the day began. The participants were greeted by sun with temperatures in the mid 40’s. The women’s 5K race started at 10:00 am, and the men’s 8K race followed at 11:00 am. The location was a challenging grass-covered course lined with hills.
The women’s 5k race at the Bobcat Cross Country Course featured 17 DI and DII teams with 127 total competitors. Moody Bible Institute took home its seventh straight DII Women’s Cross Country National Championship on Saturday. The Archers finished with 43 points and had three runners in the top eight. Bob Jones University took second with 71 points and Alice Lloyd College finished third with 91 points.
Kimberly Buskirk of Grace Christian University won the DII individual title for the second straight year, beating out 51 other runners with a time of 19:42.32. Moody Bible’s Summer Pierson took second in a time of 19:54.26, while Alice Lloyd’s Carlee Salyers (Wise, VA) crossed the finish line at 20:01 to place third. Additionally, Salyers was the sixteenth runner to cross the finish line, regardless of division.
The other members of the Lady Eagles all managed solid times as well. Senior Rachel McCoy (Hurley, VA) would finish shortly after in 21:48, good enough for twelfth place. Freshman Cara Acey (Somerset, KY-23:12), junior Morgan Arthur (Raceland, KY-23:23), and sophomore Brooke Vanover (Big Stone Gap, VA-23:21), would all earn important points for the squad that led to their podium finish.
The additional runners who all displayed grit and determination were freshman Lauren Bryant (Big Stone Gap, VA-23:57), junior Kristin McCoy (Hurley, VA-24:53), sophomore Hannah Bryant (Big Stone Gap, VA-25:02), sophomore Abigail Webb (Big Stone Gap, VA-25:43), freshman Nicole McMurray (Big Stone Gap, VA-27:20), and freshman Jasmine Parker (Ashland, KY-27:33).
The men’s 8k race featured 18 DI and DII teams with over 130 competitors. The victor was Bob Jones University. The Bruins had four runners place in the top ten and finished with 38 points. Ozark Christian College finished second with 47 points, and Kansas Christian College had 98 points to place third.
Jeremy Fopman of Maranatha Baptist University won the individual title over 49 runners with a time of 26:38.69. Ozark Christian’s Eli Connatser finished second in a time of 27:40.90, while Daniel Nega of Kansas Christian took third in 28:20.43.
For Alice Lloyd, Alex Lewis (Harlan, KY) finished the course in eighth place with a solid run of 29:03. His time was exactly one minute faster than his time last season. Additionally, Lewis was the fifty-second runner to cross the finish line, regardless of division.
Freshman Jeremy Benjamin (Gate City, VA), sophomore Austin Lee (Richlands, VA), freshman Bryson Sargent (Bristol, VA), and sophomore Dakota Owens (Big Stone Gap, VA) fought with great effort as they crossed the line in 34:06, 34:20, 34:45, and 34:58 respectively.
The Alice Lloyd cross country program is definitely on the rise. The men’s roster will remain virtually the same going into next year with no seniors and several red-shirts returning. The women will lose three-year runner Rachel McCoy, but Coach Arnold plans to bring in a strong recruiting class to help build on the success. The Eagles are taking a short break from running to recover, and then they will start work on the road to the 2020 nationals.