CLINTON, Miss. – The Loyola University New Orleans cross country teams competed in the SSAC Conference Championship this morning. Both teams gave valiant performances, but came up short for qualifying for Nationals in Vancouver on November 19.
However, sophomore co-captain Vanessa Righeimer qualified individually and will travel to Nationals for the first time in her young career. Righeimer finished in eighth place with a time of 19:37, a spot that earned her the distinction of 2011 Women’s SSAC All-Conference Team. The time of 19:37 ties Kristen Gutierrez (1996) for the second fastest 5K time in Loyola history.
Righeimer paced the women’s team to a fourth place finish out of 12 teams, scoring 110 points with an average time of 20:37. Rounding out the top five for the ‘Pack are Denise Powell (20:36) in 21st, Jenna Knoblach (20:37) in 22nd, Mary Clara Hutchison (20:49) in 26th, and Islam Galgal (21:25) in 34th. Senior Mary Clara Hutchison saved her best time for last, securing a career best in the 5K.
“The women ran well today,” stated Loyola head coach Andy Canegitta. “All the girls gave 100% effort, and definitely showed an improvement from last year.”
The men’s team finished in sixth place out of 11 teams in the 8K race, scoring 156 points with an average time of 28:54. The freshmen duo of Paul Freese and Henry Gerbracht led the way for the ‘Pack. Freese finished in 20th place with a time of 27:49, and Gerbracht came in 24th with a time of 28:06.
Rounding out the top five for the men are Galen Westerfield (29:20) in 39th, Dylan DiMartino (29:36) in 42nd, and Chris Graugnard (29:42) in 45th. Westerfield and Graugnard’s times were both career bests for the juniors.
“The men ran well for young group,” continues Canegitta. “It was nice to see a couple of guys achieve personal bests this morning.”
Shorter University claimed both the men and women’s championships, earning their bid to Nationals. On the women’s side they scored 37 points with an average time of 19:18. For the men, who are ranked second in the NAIA, they scored just 18 points with an average time of 25:56. Eliud Ng’etich of Shorter finished first overall with a time of 25:32.
Lee University, who came in second place on the women’s side, also earned a spot in Vancouver. Lee scored 71 points with an average time of 19:52. Maggie Opelt from Lee finished first overall with a time of 18:09.
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