Cross Country well-represented on Southland 50th Anniversary Honor Roll

GO CARDINALS <b>Matt Johnsen</b>
Matt Johnsen

Oct. 29, 2013

FRISCO – With decades of success to its name, the Lamar cross country program was recognized for its extensive history on Tuesday as 11 athletes and two coaches were named to the Southland Conference’s 50th Anniversary Honor Roll.

“As a former Lamar athlete and alumnus, I’m very glad that the Southland has recognized so many athletes for their accomplishments,” said 15-year head cross country and track coach Trey Clark. “It’s a great feeling to know that the conference holds so many of our athletes here in such high regard. It’s a great day to be member of this program.”

Lamar, which holds a record 14 Southland championships in cross country, placed more athletes on the list of honorees than any other school.

“I think there has always been a consistent level of high performance expected from our distance program,” Clark explained. “You can even go back to Coach Ty Terrell and Ian Stewart on the men’s side and Midde Hamrin for the women. We have a very strong history here with our distance runners.”

Six former Cardinals and current senior Matt Johnsen earned a spot on the 45-person men’s honor roll. Johnsen was the only current athlete to earn such recognition. The Australian was a 2012 All-American last season, and he’s a former Freshman of the Year in the conference. On the track, he took home an indoor 5,000 crown en route to earning Most Outstanding Track Athlete in 2012.

“For me, when the list came out, seeing Matt’s name on there was a pretty cool deal,” Clark said. “It’s definitely a testament to him for all the work that he’s put in for us over the years. I’m very proud of him.”

Both Francis Kasagule and Samuel Kosgei were honored as well. Kasagule is LU’s only two-time All-American, taking home the honors in both 2006 and 2007. He grabbed his first individual SLC title in cross country in 2009. Kosgei earned his All-America nod in 2008 on the heels of taking home an SLC crown. Kasagule and Kosgei combined to win 12 SLC track individual titles and set six school records.



“Francis was just a tough, tough competitor,” Clark explained. “It didn’t matter what the distance was, he just got out there and went for it. As for Sammy, he overcame a lot of adversity in his time here. He started off very strong, but he had to persevere a lot to overcome his back injury. For him to work that hard to be that successful is impressive.”

The trio of Kasagule, Kosgei and Johnsen each played a role in one of the most dominant runs in conference history as the Cards locked up six consecutive championships from 2006-11.

Four other Cards earned a spot on the list, including 1969 All-American Gerry Garcia, who took home the 1970 conference title. Mike Plumb, Pedro Caceres and Rafael Colmenares each took home an individual title from 1982-1984. Caceres, who also holds five track titles, ultimately competed for Argentina at the 1984 Olympics.

Lamar earned men’s overall titles in 1979 and from 1981-84.

Clerc Koenck, one of the most successful athletes in school history, headlines the women’s side after earning a pair of individual titles in 2006 and 2007. The Anacoco, Louisiana, native is also one of the most decorated track athletes in school history, earning eight individual titles and setting four school records.

“Clerc really, really developed over her time here,” Clark explained. “She was someone who could run any distance for us, and she cared just as much about the team wins as she did the individual wins. She was a part of three championships for us, and it’s very fitting for her to be on this list.”

Renee Graham never took home Southland honors, but the New Zealand native was a three-time participant at the NCAA National meet and a vital part of the LU women’s three straight SLC titles from 2004-06.

“Renee was a part of a very special time in the women’s program,” Clark said. “She was a very tough individual and worked very hard. There was not a day where she didn’t get after it. She was a fiery competitor for us and willing to put the work in.”

Rosita Astrom and Becky Brooke rounded out the honorees for the Lady Cards after taking home the first-ever individual titles. Astrom earned the inaugural crown in 1985 and Brooke offered an LU encore in 1986.

Off the course, Sonny Jolly and Sita Waru were two of the eight coaches honored by the Southland. Jolly helped guide the Cards to five titles in the 70s and 80s, and Waru directed the men and the women to three championships apiece, earning Coach of the Year honors six times.

“I think that Coach Jolly is the best coach in the history of the Southland,” Clark said. “I’m very privileged to have competed for him. I’m proud to know him, and I have the utmost respect for him as a coach. I’m really glad that he’s being recognized for this.”

“I’m glad that Sita made the list,” Clark added. “This was her first job, and she was a big part of helping make this program what it is today. I’m very proud to see her on here. We have a very strong history with distance coaches, dating back to Barry Collins and Andy Senorski.”


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