NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's cross country team won their fourth title in five years, edging UTSA by five points at the 2011 Southland Conference Championships. Junior Patrick Kimeli defended his title, winning the men's 8k individual crown for the second straight year to help the team to a third-place finish in Nacogdoches, Texas at the Piney Woods Country Club Monday.
"The women went in with expectations that they were going to do well," head coach Shawn Flanagan said. "We have a winning tradition here and the women have lived up to it. The four seniors went out with rings and that's the way we like it to be. It sets a good tone for the girls coming up."
The women's team finished with 65 points and was led by senior Kristine Burciaga, who finished in second place with a time of 21:42.5. Senior Julia Sambu finished three spots behind in fifth place with a time of 21:53.3. Senior Sarah Kimaiyo was the third Islander to cross the line in 13th place with a time of 22:03.6. Junior BreAnna Briggs finished six spots behind Kimaiyo in 19th place with a time of 22:23.5 Senior Danielle Higgins recorded a 26th-place finish crossing the line with a time of 22:34.7 Junior Melissa Jones finished in 42nd place followed by freshman Jennifer Ramirez and Shelby Polasek, who finished in 45th and 50th, respectively.
"We had a setback with Cecy Gonzalez being sick but Kristine, Julia and Sarah drove on through," Flanagan said. "Kristine had a tremendous race coming from a walk-on girl as a freshman and now finishing as the runner-up with a shot to compete at nationals."
The Islanders edged UTSA, who finished with 70 points, followed by Lamar (92 points) in third, Texas State (115 points) in fourth and UT Arlington (123 points) rounded out the top five. The five points that separated the Islanders and UTSA was the smallest winning margin at the SLC Championships, since the Islanders clinched their first title in 2007 over Lamar by four points.
The Islanders have won a total of eight titles as a team out of 11 conference meets. Before joining the Southland, the Islanders won four as a Division I independent conference.
The men's team was led by Kimeli for the second straight year. The native of Eldoret, Kenya, clinched his second consecutive Southland individual title in the 8k, finishing with a time of 24:50.6. Kimeli joins former Islander and current assistant coach Shadrack Songok as the only runners to win the individual 8k title consecutive years. Songok won the title in 2006 and 2007.
"Patrick had a superb race," Flanagan said. "Once the Lamar guy went out Patrick set back on the pack. Matt Johnsen from Lamar, who beat Patrick in Austin, kept surging on him uphill and Patrick answered with some kicks at the end."
The men improved their fifth-place finish last season, claiming the third-place slot with 91 points behind UTSA (63 points) and Lamar (29 points). SFA finished in fourth place (100 points) and McNeese State (134) rounded out the fifth spot. Lamar clinched their sixth consecutive men's title and 11th team title.
"It was the best performance that we have had in three years," Flanagan said. "They ran extremely well."
After Kimeli the next four Islanders finished in a pack. The second Islander to finish behind Kimeli was freshman Valentinas Rudys in 22nd place with a time of 26:13.5. Freshman Philipp Baar finished one tenth of a second behind Rudys in 23rd place. Sophomore Justin Adame improved his finish from last year by 10 spots, finishing in 24th place with a time of 26:14.8. Finishing behind Adame was freshman Christoph Hintz with a time of 26:15.9. Freshman Angel Banda finished in 30th place with a time of 26:22.5. Sophomore Jason Garcia crossed the line in 41st place with a time of 27:01.4 and rounding out the field for the Islanders was senior Jeremy Juarez in 45th place with a time of 27:22.1.
Kimeli, Sambu and Burciaga all earned All-Conference honors for finishing in the top 10.
The Islanders will travel to Waco, Texas to compete in the NCAA Regional on Sat., Nov. 12, at 10 a.m.
For the latest information, follow Islanders Cross Country on Twitter (@IslandersTFXC) and Facebook (Texas A&M Corpus Christi Track & Field/Cross Country).
Coach Flanagan on winning the women's team title:
Patrick Kimeli on winning the men's individual title:
Women's 6k Team Scores:
1. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 65
2. UTSA 70
3. Lamar 92
4. Texas State 115
5. UT Arlington 123
6. Stephen F. Austin 156
7. McNeese State 164
8. Nicholls State 206
9. Central Arkansas 232
10. Sam Houston State 241
T11. Southeastern Louisiana 308
T11. Northwestern State 308
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi Individual Results:
2. Kristine Burciaga 21:42.5
5. Julia Sambu 21:53.3
13. Sarah Kimaiyo 22:03.6
19. BreAnna Briggs 22:23.5
26. Danielle Higgins 22:34.7
42. Melissa Jones 23:23.7
45. Jennifer Ramirez 23:28.1
50. Shelby Polasek 23:45.4
Men's 8k Team Scores:
1. Lamar 29
2. UTSA 63
3. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 91
4. Stephen F. Austin 100
5. McNeese State 134
6. Texas State 152
7. UT Arlington 204
8. Sam Houston State 221
9. Central Arkansas 244
10. Northwestern State 295
11. Southeastern Louisiana 303
12. Nicholls State 337
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi Individual Results:
1. Patrick Kimeli 24:50.6
22. Valentinas Rudys 26:13.5
23. Philipp Baar 26:13.6
24. Justin Adame 26:14.8
25. Christoph Hintz 26:15.9
30. Angel Banda 26:22.5
41. Jason Garcia 27:01.4
45. Jeremy Juarez 27:22.1