Nov. 11, 2009
BEAUMONT, Texas - The Lamar University men's cross country team looks to take a run at history Saturday when it competes at the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco, Texas.
The Cardinals, who are coming off their fourth consecutive Southland Conference championship, have a strong chance to finish in the top two at the regionals, which would qualify Lamar to make its first team appearance in the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.
"I think the guys would be disappointed if we didn't finish in the top two," coach Jake Stewart said. "Our goal for the whole year has been to get to the NCAA championships. We have the capability of doing that."
The Cardinals are led by senior Francis Kasagule, a two-time All American in cross country, who was named the Southland Conference's Male Athlete of the Year for cross country.
"Francis can definitely challenge to win the meet," Stewart said. "He's been in the top 10 in the regionals before."
Other top runners for the Cardinals include senior Hillary Samoei, juniors Drew Bean and Joonas Harjamaki and freshmen Bob Ahimbisibwe (the conference's Freshman of the Year), Alex De La Garza and Maarten Van Dyck. The top five finishers will count in the team scoring.
"We have seven good runners who will be competing," Stewart said. "That depth is important."
On the women's side, Lamar is led by Samantha Walkow, the Southland Conference's Freshman of the Year. Walkow was fourth at the Southland Conference meet.
"She ran a great race," Stewart said of Walkow's effort at the conference meet. "She was rewarded for her hard work."
The women, who finished sixth at the conference meet, have their work cut out for them if they hope to qualify for the NCAA championships. In addition to Walkow, the young squad features sophomores Daisy Cantu and Emily Carpenter and freshmen Marlou Biljsma, Karen Svensson and Nora-Beth Saunders.
"It's a great opportunity to gain some experience," Stewart said. "Our goal is to continue to run well and to improve."