WACO Anne Ronoh posted the highest-ever finish by a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's runner finishing 11th at the NCAA South Central Region meet to lead the Islander women to a seventh-place finish on Saturday. The A&M-Corpus Christi men were ninth.
Ronoh, who will likely be the first Islander woman to qualify for the NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind., finished the 6K course in 21:05 less than 30 seconds behind by winner Nicole Mericle of Rice. Ronoh was the top finisher from the Southland Conference finally defeating year-long nemesis Dana Mecke, who placed 23 in 21:42.8.
"Anne had a great race with the highest-finish a female has had at the region meet to earn all-region honors," said Islander head coach Shawn Flanagan. "I am confident she will make the national meet becoming the first Islander woman to do that. She was the second finisher not from one of the top three finishing teams and that should be enough. We'll find out for sure tomorrow, but I have already purchased the plane tickets to the region meet."
Behind Ronoh's solid showing, the Islander women placed seventh with 222 points matching their region ranking entering the meet. They led all Southland Conference schools with Stephen F. Austin the second league school to finish placing ninth with 246 points.
Courtney Johnson was the second Islander to stop the clock placing 45th overall and 43rd amongst scoring runners with a time of 22:31.7 Sheila Salil, Cynthia Santaella and Sarah De Los Santos finished back-to-back-to-back Salil was 55th in 22:50.1, Santaella 56th in 22:51.3 and Sarah De Los Santos 57th in 22:53.4. Freshman Alex Bullard ran but did not score finishing 84th in 24:05.6.
Arkansas claimed the team title with 51 points edging Baylor and Rice, who tied for second by 10 points. SMU was fourth with 103 Texas and Texas A&M finished fifth and sixth, respectively. The Longhorns scored 134 points and the Aggies 186.
The men entered the meet ranked tenth in the region and improved on that ranking by one with 283 points. Led by former Islander Shadrack Songok, who won his third straight region crown, the Texas A&M men won the team title by five points over Arkansas39-44. Lamar was third with 74 points behind Samuel Kosgei's runner-up position, while Texas was fourth (112). Rice was fifth with 164 points and UTPA sixth (181). Stephen F. Austin placed eighth (251) behind LSU (212).
Individually, Scott Vance led the Islanders with a 33rd-place finish overall and 29th-place result among scorers in 32:23.1. Erik Burciaga was 34th amongst scorers just seven seconds behind Vance, with Edward Kemei 63rd in33:27.3. Ari Perez followed in 70th in 33:45. In his final race as an Islander, Blaine Gibson turned in his best performance scoring in the top five for the first time. He was 87th with a personal-best mark of 34:34.8. Eloy Zertuche was 90th with a time of 34:42.4, but did not score.
"I was pleased with how the women ran," said coach. "We were seventh in the region coming in and we finished just behind A&M even though Caitlyn Arambula was unable to finish.
"On the men's side, we didn't do as well as we hoped and were the third conference team to finish. It hurt that Kirk Dalheim was unable to finish again. I was happy to see Blaine finish his career the way he did.