An injury-depleted cross-country team managed to capture second place at the Naimadu Pre-Regional cross-country meet at Grover Nelson Park on Saturday.
The Wildcats scored a total of 42 points, second only to champion Tarleton State, which scored 33 points. West Texas A&M finished in third place with 64 points, and Dallas Baptist finished fourth with 71.
ACU’s Amos Sang finished in first place overall, completing the four-mile course in 18:58.25. His teammate, freshman Colby Delbene, crossed the line in second place with a time of 19:48.16. This was the first race of the year for all-Conference runner Daniel Maina, who crossed the line in eighth place. Unfortunately, Head Coach Sam Burroughs’ team was forced to race without all-Conference runner Cleophas Tanui, who was pulled just before the race with an injury.
“We had some good individual successes from our top three,” Burroughs said. “It was Daniel’s first race of the year after he was rehabilitated from Achilles tendonitis, but he has shaken that and is back in the training room.”
Burroughs said he has come to expect front-of-the-pack finishes from Sang, but Delbene has caught his attention. The freshman and Patterson, N.Y., native has shown improvement as the season has advanced. Delbene finished in 11th place at last month’s pre-national invitational and is expected to play a major role in ACU’s title quest.
“This race was a great confidence-builder for Colby,” Burroughs said. “For Amos, it was as I expected. I really didn’t think anyone in the field would come close to him, and they didn’t.”
On the women’s side, ACU finished in fourth place with 93 points. Dallas Baptist ran away from the field, winning with a mere 18 points. The Lady Patriots had four of the top five runners, including race champion Hannah Steffan. The bright spot for ACU was the ninth-place finish of Chloe Susset. The freshman and French native has continued to show great progress as she gets used to American cross-country.
“I think she’s getting used to American races,” Burroughs said. “American collegiate cross-country is much more competitive than what she would be used to in France.”
The race at Abilene’s Nelson Park served as the final chance for the teams to prepare for the 2009 Lone Star Conference Championships. The men will be going for their 19th consecutive LSC title, and Burroughs said his team is heavily favored to win yet again. The 2009 race is scheduled for Oct. 24 at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.