Oct. 31, 2013
BEAUMONT – After seeing its streak of six consecutive championships halted last year in Beaumont by rival McNeese State, the Lamar men’s cross country team will look to repay the favor on Friday as the Southland Conference Championships in Lake Charles.
The men, led by 2012 All-American Matt Johnsen, are the most successful team in the conference’s history, taking home the silverware a record 11 times, including every season from 2006-2011. Johnsen, who is the only current athlete to on the recently-released SLC’s 50th Anniversary team, will be looking for his third team title and first individual crown. The Australian has been an annual top five finisher in the event, ending a career-best second in 2011.
The junior duo Ryan Creech and Sam Stabler have been to the conference’s mountaintop, as both were also a part of the 2011 title. Stabler was named Freshman of the Year following that season’s race.
Ash Harrell, who missed out last year’s season due to injury, has been one of the top runners this season for the Cardinals, and he’ll be looking for a strong finish as well this weekend. He’ll be joined by fellow graduate student Mike Kershaw as well as freshmen Sean Guiney and Sean Chalmers.
On the women’s side, Leigh Lattimore has been the leader among a strong crop of newcomers, as the Lady Cards aim for their first title since taking home three in a row from 2004-06. The graduate student out of England posted a fifth-place finish in the loaded Notre Dame Invitational field, and she’s expected to go toe-to-toe with fellow conference standout Brooke Cassar out of Central Arkansas.
After Lattimore, the Lady Cards have been bolstered by the finishes of her fellow Brits. Louise Webb
has been the second LU athlete to cross the finish line in nearly every race this season, and the duo of Rachel Robinson
and Claire Arnold
hasn’t been that far behind.
Kayla de Bondt, Megan Flanagan and Belinda Aguilar are also expected to run on Friday.
Hannah Alderson, who competed at the World Cross Country Championships last year, is slated to make her team debut. The England native has missed much of the season due to injury, and has only competed once this season, running as an individual in the open race at Notre Dame.
Both races on Friday will be held at the Ward 3 Recreational Complex in Lake Charles. The six-kilometer women’s race will start at 8:30 a.m., and the eight-kilometer men’s event is scheduled to follow at 9:30 a.m.