Two cross country women placed in the top five at the regional tournament, while the men finished in 26th, 37th and 57th against their competitors.
Chloe Susset won the NCAA Division II South Central Regional title for the Wildcats on Saturday in Wichita Falls. She finished with a time of 21:37.90, out-running women from Midwestern State, Pittsburg State and other Division II schools.
The victory gives the ACU women seven regional gold medals in the last 10 years. This is the second-straight year head coach Chris Woods has led an individual to victory at the regional meet.
Teammate Alyse Goldsmith, junior from Katy,Â came in fourth place with a time of 21:50.70. Because both women finished in the top five, they qualified for the NCAA II National Championships, which will take place in Spokane, Wash. on November 19.
“I’m not surprised with the outcome of Chloe winning and Alyse coming in the top five,” Woods said. “With the way they’ve been progressing this season, I had every bit of confidence they’d qualify for nationals. I’m extremely proud of both of them.”
Susset, junior from France, said she previewed the 6k, or 3.75 miles, course Friday and knew exactly which path she wanted to take.
“Where I need to be each part of the race and other details are the elements I focus on. I started in the back at the conference meet and couldn’t zig-zag through the pack of girls. I had to wait for gaps. I’m glad that happened though, because I started out faster at regionals.”
Susset said she has to race in France against Russians who are minutes ahead of her or competing for the Olympics.
“I just want to race,” Susset said. “I like to compete at regionals because it’s at my level. I can control the race and win.”
For the past two years, Susset has run in the back of the race. This year, however, with a faster time, she made her way to the front.
“I’ve killed myself in workouts. I quit one workout and just couldn’t do it anymore, but it made sense at regionals when I was the strongest because I’d been training so much.”
Cross country members wore a ribbon Saturday morning in memory of Anabel Reid, who was killed in an ACU bus accident last Friday. When Susset finished the race, Woods said he went over to congratulate her, and she touched the black ribbon pinned to her jersey.
“She kept saying ‘I did it for her,'” Woods said. “It gave me goose-bumps.”
Susset didn’t know Reid but said several of her friends did. The death affected Susset and Goldsmith, and it motivated them to represent Reid the best way they could.
“‘It showed a lot about their character, compassion and commitment. They pulled positive energy from a tragic event.”
As for the men, Fabian Wessel-Terharn came in 26th, followed by teammates William Pike in 37th and Erik Forrister in 57th. Wessel-Terharn was one spot away from receiving all-region honors.
Woods said the team is one or two men away from being back on top of the conference and region.
“We are almost there. With Fabian being a freshman, I feel positive where he’ll be moving forward the next three or four years. I’m proud of the entire season Will Pike put together. He was more consistent this season and stepped up as an individual. He was a leader by example. This is also the best season Erik and I have ever had together. He made some personal records and as he gets older, he’ll only get better and become a solid runner.”
The race in Spokane, Wash., will be Susset and Goldsmith’s first national appearance for cross country, and Woods said they are focused.
“The road doesn’t end here,” Woods said. “We still have one more race to run.”