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Cross Country Teams Travel to SoCon Championships

Junior Mara Smith has run the eighth fastest 5K time in the SoCon this season.

Oct. 27, 2011

CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina cross country teams will head to Charleston, S.C. this weekend to compete in the 2011 Southern Conference Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships at the Trophy Lakes course. The event is hosted by the College of Charleston and will take place on Sat., Oct. 29. The meet begins with the men's 8K race at 10 a.m., followed by the women's 5K. An awards ceremony will follow the championships.

On the men's side, defending champion Appalachian State have three runners who finished in the top 20 in last year's conference championship, Will Raby, Alex Taylor and Chris Moen. The Mountaineers have won the past six SoCon Championships.

UNCG features three of the top five SoCon times in the 8K this season in with sophomore Paul Chelimo running the fastest time at 23:36.05. Chelimo is a two-time SoCon Runner of the Week and was named the Runner of the Month for September. Davidson's Ryan Hopkins and Demetrios Pagonis round out the top five while the Wildcats put six in the top 20, the most of any SoCon team. Western Carolina's top male runner, Nolan Clark, sits in 16th on the chart with an 8K best time of 25:11.55.

Clark has been WCU's top runner this season in all four meets, most recently picking up a personal best, top 15 finish at the Royal Cross Country Challenge two weeks ago.

On the women's side, junior Morgan Turner has been WCU's top finisher in two of the four meets so far this season. In the Royal Cross Country Challenge, junior Mara Smith ran a school record 17:44 in the 5000m, finishing seventh overall. Turner was the next Catamount to finish, placing fifteenth with a time of 18:11.

Smith's school record in the 5K was the eighth fastest time in the SoCon this season. Three WCU women's runners are featured in the SoCon's top 20, Smith, Turner and senior Olivia Jacobs. The Catamounts are one of five teams with at least three runners on the list, with Elon being the only school with four. Samford's Lauren D'Alessio tops the list with her league best 17:06.47.



"This year seems to be one of the deepest talent pools ever in Southern Conference history," said head coach Danny Williamson.

"This season has been very good for the majority of our runners, as almost all have recorded personal bests. Our goal from the Day One was to improve upon our finish from last year and try to elevate ourselves into the upper half of the final conference standings. This could turn out to be one of the most competitive conference meets in many years, and we feel like we have a golden opportunity to be right in the thick of things."

To view the championship page and photos from the event, log onto Complete results from the championship can be found at following the meet.