Oct. 27, 2012
MT. PLEASANT, S.C. -
Western Carolina's cross country teams placed sixth on both the men's and women's sides as the women were led by two top 10 finishes by Mara Smith and Jocelyn Keen at the 2012 Southern Conference Cross Country Championships held at Laurel Hill Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
Mara Smith for the second straight season saved her best race for the SoCon Championships. Smith matched the WCU 5k record that she set last season, running a 17:35 for the second straight year to finish fourth overall. Sophomore Jocelyn Keen ran a 17:51 - five seconds off the career high that she set two weeks ago - to place seventh overall. With their top seven finishes, both Smith and Keen were named to the All-SoCon First Team. It is the first time that WCU has ever put two women on the all-conference team.
Sophomore Aleshia Reese just missed the top 20, placing 21st with her time of 18:19. Freshman Kaitlyn Shetler and sophomore Lena Elliott crossed the line right after each other, with Shetler placing 56th (19:21) and Elliott placing 57th (19:25). Classmates Kaylan Lance and Hayley Tomlinson rounded out the top seven for the Catamounts with Lance running a 19:40 (63) and Tomlinson a 20:07 (68). The good news for the Catamounts is the WCU roster only features one senior. But that senior, Mara Smith, has led the Catamount women over the past two seasons. Appalachian State won the women's side with 64 points as Elon (68) and Samford (97) finished second and third. Samford's Lauren D'Alessio and Rachel Roberts took the top two overall spots.
On the men's side, Appalachian State completed the sweep of the meet, taking the top spot with Chattanooga and UNCG following the Mountaineers. UNCG's two Paul's (Chelimo and Katam) placed one-two, individually.
Coming off of the Royals XC Challenge when the men ran their best times of the season, expectations were high for the Catamounts going into Saturday's championships. Times were well over a minute off of where they were in Charlotte two weeks ago, causing the sixth place overall finish for the men.
Senior Josey Weaver led the Catamounts as he had in every race this season, finishing 13th overall with his time of 25:16.70. Weaver earned Second Team All-SoCon honors with his finish. Sophomore Travis Alfaro and senior Nolan Clark both placed in the top 25 with their finishes of 17th (25:33) and 25th (25:41). Senior
Chase Fisher ran a 26:23 while freshman Perry Cabean crossed the line in 26:50 to finish 41st and 55th. Garrett West was the next finisher for WCU as the senior finished 62nd with his time of 27:30. Freshman Jamie Bigby rounded out the WCU top seven with his 67th placing.
"The women were picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll and we had some kids who really stepped up," said head coach Danny Williamson. "We had two girls in the first team for the first time in program history. I really feel like it was a solid effort by the women and I'm happy for them.
"For the men, there's a little bit of disappointment for where we finished as a team. We had shown all season long that we were on a mission to prove that we were better than the eighth place that we were picked in the preseason. For some reason that I cannot figure out, we didn't live up to our expectations. We seemed timid, afraid to mess up and it ended up costing us. It all comes back to coaching, and maybe we didn't have them as prepared as I thought we did."