Saturday was a good day for ACU cross country, as the men finished two spots ahead of last year in seventh and the women picked up their second Southland Conference championship in three years.
On the men’s side, senior Ryan Cleary led the way for the Wildcats with a time of 25:05.7, good enough for 10th overall and a second team all-conference honor. He was followed by sophomore Drew Cummings in 21st and freshman Connor Miller in 28th. John Baker and Roy Kipkorir rounded out the scoring.
Distance coach Jarvis Jelen, who picked up his first Coach of the Year honors, said he was pleased with the improvement on the men’s side.
“I am really happy with our top-three,” said Jelen, “Getting seventh is good progress, and I think we’re going to continue to keeping moving in the right direction.”
The big story of the day thought, was obviously the performance on the women’s side, with a clean medal sweep for the Wildcats. The Hackett twins, led by Allie, finished 1st and 2nd, followed by redshirt senior Diana Garcia Munoz. Redshirt junior Carnley Graham finished 6th just behind two McNeese State runners, and freshman Brianna Gerlach rounded out scoring for the women.
Allie Hackett said she’s excited to compete in regionals, since after their first conference championship they were ineligible from NCAA Playoff contention.
“I’m just super excited to now be able to go to regionals,” Hackett said. “I remember in 2015 we did an extra-long cool down because our season was over, but now we get to move on and I’m not ready to stop yet.”
Coach Jelen said this is exactly what the women were expecting when they came into this race, and he’s excited for their shot at Regionals in College Station.
“The women’s team came out and did what they’re capable of,” said Jelen. “They had a really good day overall, the top three ran really well. I know Carnley would have liked to hang with those McNeese girls, but she was close and we still had a really solid day. I’m really excited for regionals and I know we can step it up another notch.”
The women return to action on November 10 at the South-Central Regionals at Texas A&M after moving up to second in regional polls, only behind Arkansas, who is the sixth ranked team in the nation. The top two teams from each region get the chance to run at the NCAA Nationals.