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CROSS COUNTRY: Crowe wins Southland title; Lamar teams narrowly second

Lamar sports information

LAKE CHARLES — Just eight points separated the men’s and the women’s cross country teams of Lamar from winning the Southland Conference Championships Friday at the Enos Derbonne Sports Complex.

Jamie Crowe captured the individual title and Jordan Rowe was named Southland Newcomer of the Year for the men, and the women trailed first-place Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by just one point.

“Our women’s team ran about as well as we could ask them to, and to come one point away from winning the championship was great,” said cross country coach Tony Houchin. “They had their best day of the season on the day they needed to have their best day. I’m really proud of the effort they showed. There are no guarantees in sports, so you have to take the good where you can. Yes, we would’ve like to have won, but at the same time we’re not at all disappointed in their performance.”

Katie Buckley had the best individual race on the women’s side, capturing third with a time of 23:00.9 in very wet and muddy conditions. She was followed by teammate Katy Whiteoak in 12th with a time of 23:53.8. A 14th place finish for Julie Emmerson (23:58.5), a 19th place finish for Sophie Wood (24:09.0), and a 23rd place finish for Mollie Williams (24:20.2) gave Big Red a competitive points grouping, with LU’s top five runners finishing just before the fifth Islander runner. But Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Allyson Girard managed to win the women’s individual title, which gave A&M-Corpus Christi the one point extra it needed to come out on top. Corpus Christi had 70 points to Lamar’s 71 points, and Stephen F. Austin came in third with 74.

Also running for Lamar’s women’s team was Mya Taylor (30th, 24:50.3) and Sarah Foster (73rd, 27:32.5).

“You have to give it to Central Arkansas on the men’s side,” said Houchin. “They outran us and packed it in, running a really tight 1-5. I thought up front we did really well, with Jamie, Jordan, and Matt running some of the best races they’ve run this season, and all the guys did all they could to try and bring another trophy home. As I said earlier, there are no guarantees in sport. We’ve been really lucky in the past several years, and this year UCA did just enough to come up and get us.

With Crowe running a 25:59.1 to win the individual men’s title, a full 17 seconds ahead of anyone else, and Rowe taking second with a time of 26:17.5, it seemed as if Lamar could have the men’s title for the sixth consecutive season. Matthew Arnold bolstered their chances with a seventh-place finish (27:06.8), but then a pack of three Bears all finished within seven seconds of each other in ninth, 10th, and 11th. Another UCA runner came in 13th, and the fifth Central Arkansas student-athlete crossed the finish line in 15th. That close grouping proved just enough for UCA as Lamar’s Kyle Garcia came in 27th with a time of 28:06.9, James Stockings came in 29th with a time of 28:12.1, and Jack Gooch finished 30th with a race of 28:20.7.

“Because of the success we’ve had over the years, these are the kind of athletes that we attract to Lamar,” said Houchin on the performances of Crowe and Rowe. “We do a good job of bringing in good talent and then a good job of developing that talent. We’re a bit disappointed with second on the men’s side, but at the same time I’m not disappointed with the effort anyone gave today. Everyone did their best and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

Pending the outcome of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll on Monday, Lamar’s men’s and women’s teams will head to the NCAA Regional Championships, hosted by Texas A&M on Nov. 9 in College Station. Any qualifying Cardinals from the Regional will then advance to the NCAA National Championships, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Nov. 17.