After winning its unprecedented 20th consecutive Lone Star Conference Championship two weeks ago, the ACU men’s cross country team now looks to build upon its previous success, looking ahead to the South Central Regional Meet to be held Saturday in Warrensburg, Missouri on the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
The women’s 6-kilometer championship race will begin at 10:30 a.m., immediately followed by the men’s 10-kilometer race at 11:30 a.m.
ACU has won nine of the last 11 regional championships and will be gunning for another Saturday. Head coach Chris Woods said there is no reason why his team can’t come out on top once again.
“I am definitely in a blessed position right now,” Woods said. “I’ve got a terrific team, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t win the meet Saturday. From top to bottom, I’ve got a strong core group of runners, and I’m anxious to show them off in Missouri.”
Momentum is also in the ‘Cats’ favor, as they are coming off two wins at the LSC Championship Meet and the Naimadu Pre-Conference Meet.
“I feel like we’re running really well right now and not trying to go beyond what we’re capable of, but rather run our own race,” Woods said. “If we continue that Saturday, we’ll be in great shape.”
The men’s team is led by two-time defending champion Amos Sang and seniors Cleophas Tanui and Romain Rybicki.
For Sang, a senior, this year’s race means more than previous ones for several reasons.
“This is my last opportunity to compete in regionals, so, obviously, I want to do well,” Sang said. “Also, I feel like we have a very special group of runners this year, so the expectations are higher as a team. We’re going to do all we can to qualify for nationals.”
For the five freshmen competing for the first time at a meet of this caliber, they are looking to soak in every minute of it and learn all they can, freshman Gary Duncan said.
“I’m here to execute my role on this team so we have the best opportunity to win,” Duncan said. “I consider it a blessing to have someone like Amos on our team who we can look at as someone we should strive to be like.”
The women’s team is led by junior Anais Belledant and sophomores Chloe Susset and Alyse Goldsmith.
The top three men’s teams and top two women’s teams will automatically qualify for the NCAA Division II national meet, which will be held Nov. 21 in Evansville, Ind. The top two men and women not on automatically qualifying teams will qualify to run at the national meet.