(Clinton, Miss.) Four Loyola University New Orleans cross country runners qualified for the NAIA National Cross Country meet Saturday at the SSAC Championship meet. The Championship meet was held at Choctaw Trails in Clinton, Mississippi. Annie Hills, Kennedi Henneberger, Francesca Vaccaro, and Paul Freese qualified for the nationals.
Hills led the way for the women’s squad as she ran the fifth fastest 5K time in school history at 19:34.76 to finish in 7th place at the meet. The seventh place finish qualified Hills for nationals for the second straight year. This season, Hills will have company as Henneberger and Vaccaro will both join Hills at the national meet. Henneberger took 13th with a time of 19:49.78 while Vaccaro finished just behind her with a 19:51.14 mark. Haley Milsark and Denise Powell finished 19th and 21st as both were able to crack the 20 minute mark. This is the first time Loyola has sent more than three runners to nationals since 2004 when Richard Bouckaert, Matt Cagigal, Jean Cassandra, Mary Erin Imwalle all qualified for nationals.
The women’s team finished in fourth place and was the first team to have five runners cross the finish line. The team had an impressive 25 second gap time between the first five runners, but could not crack the top two teams which would have sent the whole squad to nationals. Brenau took first place in the race barely edging out Brenau 58-59. Emmanuel finished in third with 66 points, just in front of Loyola’s 75 points. There was a steep drop off after the top four as William Carey finished in fifth with 164 points. Andrea Langley from Emmanuel won the race finishing 13 seconds in front of the second place runner.
“The women ran an awesome race with five runners all under the 20 minute mark. Which is the first time we have done that,” stated coach Canegitta.
The men’s squad was paced by Paul Freese who finished in 10th place with a time of 26:30.12 which was the fourth fastest men’s 8K time in school history. That mark allowed Freese to qualify for the NAIA nationals. Jonathan Malbrue finished in 20th with a mark of 27:11. Toren Arnold posted his best mark of the year at 27:46.16. Henry Gerbracht took 35th and Alexander Morano finished in 57th to round out the men’s scoring.
The men’s team took fifth place with 141 points. Emmanuel won the team race with five of the top six runners led by Jonah Hilbert’s first place finish. William Carey and Bethel took second and third while William Carey finished in fourth.
“I am very proud of both the men’s and women’s teams. They ran a very good race today and have accomplished a lot this year. We are looking forward to improving every year,” said coach Canegitta.
Hills, Henneberger, Vaccaro, and Freese will travel to NAIA Nationals on November 26th in Lawrence, Kansas. “We will get back to work next week and prepare to continue setting personal best times,” said coach Canegitta.
4 Loyola-New Orleans 75 Points
Total Time: 1:39:12.48
7 Hills, Annie 19:34.76
13 Henneberger, Kennedi 19:49.78
15 Vaccaro, Francesca 19:51.14
19 Milsark, Haley 19:56.95
21 Powell, Denise 19:59.85
31 Gienger, Elizabeth 20:24.74
47 Williams, Jessica 21:21.12
58 Larson, Emma 21:54.82
64 Derganz Baker, Raquel 22:28.77
77 Sparks, Ashleigh 23:32.38
5 Loyola-New Orleans 141 points
Total Time: 2:19:07.65
10 Freese, Paul 26:30.12
20 Malbrue, Jonathan 27:11.47
26 Arnold, Toren 27:46.16
35 Gerbracht, Henry 28:13.95
57 Morano, Alexander 29:25.95