The Southland Conference Championship takes place this Friday, and will be the first conference championship meet held at ACU since the 2010 , when were still part of the Lone Star Conference.
On the men’s side, McNeese is ranked the highest in the region at fourth, followed by Lamar in 11th and Incarnate Word in 15th. On the women’s side ACU takes the top spot in the conference placing third in the South-Central region, followed by Lamar in seventh, McNeese in 11th and Stephen F. Austin in 14th.
Last year Lamar won the men’s side thanks to the top returning runner from last year, Freddie Gasbarri, who finished second overall last year. On the women’s side SFA looks to repeat after winning their league-best eighth title.
Both Wildcat teams finished 9th last year at the Southland Conference Championships, but have returned strong runners. The men returned their two top finishers in Travis Nichols and Drew Cummings, who finished 36th and 37th last year. On the women’s side, they return the obvious duo of Alexandria and Michaela Hackett and Diana Garcia Munoz, their three top runners from when ACUtheir 2015 Southland Conference title. All three women redshirted last year.
The last race for both the men and women was the NCAA DI Pre-Nationals. The Wildcat were the only Southland Conference team to compete in the meet that featured the nation’s top teams. The women had a strong showing finishing 18th out of 43 teams, led by the Hackett sisters, with Michaela finishing 32nd and Allie finishing 35th. On the men’s side, there was only one top-100 runner in Ryan Cleary, who finished 84th in the Wildcat’s 21st place finish out of 24 teams.
The races will be held at ACU’s new cross country course, which was broken in when the teams hosted the Naimudu Classic. The Women’s 6k will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the Men’s 8k will follow at 9:30 a.m. Runners who place well could qualify for the NCAA South-Central Regional Qualifying Race.