Rhodes College hosted the S/SE Region Championships on their home course at Shelby Farms in Memphis, TN. The Captains placed four on the All-Region Team with top-35 finishes from Ray Gamache for the men and Dira Hansen, Erin Rolaf, and Jade Zaharoff for the women.
Captains Conclude 2010 XC In Memphis
Women Finish 3rd, Men 8th At S/SE Region Championships
In the 2009 Region Championships at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, the Captains matched their highest finish ever with the aid of seniors running 2-3-4. With that squad's #6 and #8 also not returning, a lot of holes needed filling for 2010. The team felt they had those holes filled and entered the Championships confident that they would finish no worse than last year and hopeful that they could expose a weakness on either Emory's or Rhodes' squads.
Dira Hansen (Culpeper, VA) pulled the Captains out to a strong start and situated herself in the top 10 as the field settled itself half way through the first of two laps around the rolling terrain of Shelby Farms Park. Freshman Erin Rolaf (Woodbridge, VA) started a little more conservatively in the next pack while Jade Zaharoff (Vienna, VA) and Karen Bumiller (Burke, VA) found themselves drifting back through the pack.
Entering the second lap, the pacesetters from Emory and Rhodes were putting a lot of pressure on the field. Hansen was still battling in the top 15 while Rolaf's steady pace held her in the 20's. Zaharoff clicked in and started a surge down the long straightaway leading to the second loop to the tall grass at the far end of the course. By the time she re-emerged and headed in to the final 1200m, she had moved up dozens of places and put Hansen and Rolaf in her sights.
One of Zaharoff's victims was senior teammate Chrissy Rogers (Springfield, VA) who held a spot in the 40's through most of the race. With 1200m to go, the course featured a series of rollercoaster hills. On the last and longest, Rogers was spurred on by calls from Coach Ley and powered by several competitors before the last, long loop in to the finish line.
The run-in was full of drama for the Captains. Hansen was in a back-and-forth battle with runners from Rhodes and Lynchburg College. At the line, one crucial second separated the trio with Hansen coming up short -- 16th place for her and 14th going to the last individual qualifier to Nationals. Zaharoff caught and passed Rolaf looping around the start line before turning left in to the finish. The rookie fought back, however, and nearly caught another runner before finishing 19th to Zaharoff's 20th. The course measured slightly less than 6,000m, but the 23:02, 23:06, and 23:08 times for these three are easily their best Cross Country performances so far.
In just her fourth Cross Country race, Rogers added a 40th place finish (39th scorer) and was just 8 seconds from All-Region recognition (23:42). Fellow senior Michelle Stauffer (Fort Valley, VA) closed well to complete the Captains' tally as the #5. Her 25:13 was also one of her best performances ever and brought the team score to 177. Bumiller was right on her heels at the finish (25:17) and freshman Jessica McClelland (Stafford, VA) ended the season with a 26:05 finish.
The Captains' 177 points was not enough to contend with the outstanding pack running from Rhodes (50) and Emory (54), but it did once again match the team's highest finish in program history -- 9 points clear of 4th place Centre College. Hansen earned her third All-Region medal while Rolaf and Zaharoff were called up for their first honors.
For the first time this season, the Captains arrived at a meet facing fall-like conditions -- cool, light rain, and a little wind. The Shelby Farms course held up perfectly and retained solid footing up and down its numerous hills. After missing last year's Championships due to injury, junior Corey Lofton (Vienna, VA) came in with his sights on an individual invitation to the National Championships and the rest of CNU's harriers were looking to regain some regional respect after a poor showing in 2009.
At the first mile marker, the men in blue were in pretty good position. Lofton was tracking the lead pack with the rest of CNU's seven spread back through the field's front 50. That mile marker, however, was at the top of a sharp hill so the feel was worse than the pace and a little bit of doubt entered the minds of most of the team. The exception was sophomore Raymond Gamache (King George, VA) who had missed much of the season with a foot injury. He, too, had set his sights on Nationals and as he moved in to the second lap of the three circuit race, he made his move. Lofton started to fall of the early pace and Gamache eventually rolled past him.
Will Kirk (Mechanicsville, VA) was holding a steady #3 for the Captains in the 50's for much of the race. Senior Jeffrey Ball (Chesapeake, VA) had the misfortune of losing a shoe mid-race, but still kept pushing himself forward through the field. Joshua Bowling (Crewe, VA) was tracking Ball.
Gamache was able to close all the way to 23rd place. As with the women's course, the men's measured up just short of 8,000m, but Gamache's 26:19 was by far his best performance ever -- and he finished 62 places higher than at last year's Championships. Lofton held on for 38th (26:45) -- just short of the All-Region cut-off. Kirk's 26:54 was good for 48th place -- his first time in the top 100 in three tries. Ball concluded his second XC season with a 64th place 27:19 -- 29 places higher than last year. Bowling finished 23 places better than in '09 as he added the final points to the men's total, finishing in 76th (27:29). Scott Teribury (Woodbridge, VA) continued the theme of big place improvements. At 82nd (27:35), he finished 58 spots better than last year. Senior Franklin (Mac) McCracken (Richmond, VA) made his Region Championships debut and finished 92nd (27:50).
All told, the men posted 239 points, just 17 behind the 6th place tie between VA Wesleyan and Guilford. Lynchburg (70) ran away with the title ahead of Centre College (100).
The Captains now turn their attention to the Indoor Track & Field season. Most of the XC squad will carry their training forward to the season opener at home on December 5th before heading in to their transition phase.
For complete CNU Results, check out the Results Page