5 Runners Compete for Nationals

Kenneth Washington

November 7th, 2017

Willging crosses the finish line Credit: SXU Athletics

Saturday, November 4- CCAC Championships

This was a big tournament for the Cross-Country team as it was the CCAC Championship. This means that all of the best runners in the CCAC conference amongst both men and women were competing for a spot to qualify for the NAIA nationals.

Women

It was a great showing for the women as Saint Xavier finished 5th out of the 12 teams that competed. No surprise to anyone, senior Ellie Willging continues her streak of first place finishes in races.

This performance was amazing as she was competing against 120 of the best runners in the country. Even more amazingly, Willging finished the race with a time 18:09.4; a whopping 10 seconds ahead of the Trinity Christian runner Megan DeWeerd who finished with a time of 18:18.8.

Willging wasn’t the only one with a spectacular finish as senior Sierra Downey finished 10th with a time of 19:48.1. Both women finishing within the top 10 meant that both Willging and Downey would represent the Saint Xavier University cross-country women’s team in the National tournament.

This marks the second straight year that Willging will be competing in the tournament. It’s significant to note that last year Willging placed first in nationals. With that being said, this is Willging’s last season and I can’t think of any better way for her to leave cross-country then on top.

Junior Deandrea Stokes also had a career day at the tournament. Stokes finished 42nd and ran a new personal best time of 21:26.

As a team, the women’s team finished the race with an average time 19:55.4, a time that was a whopping 10 seconds faster than the 4th place team Olivet Nazarene who finished the race with a time of 20:05.1, but because they had more runners, they were able to obtain more points.

Men

The Saint Xavier University men’s cross-country team also had a great outing in the CCAC tournament. As a team, the men placed 4th out of 13 teams. Interestingly enough, Saint Xavier was a mere two points away from taking the 3rd spot from St. Ambrose. Prominent individual performances first included senior Alan Guzman.

Guzman, like Willging, has been the undisputed leader of this team and one of the top runners in the division and even the nation. For this tournament, Guzman finished the race with a time of 25:40. This was an amazing performance by Guzman especially considering the fact that it was 1:36 faster than 2nd place runner Cam Knudsen of St. Francis University.

Another big performance was by senior Abel Hernandez, Hernandez finished the race with a time of 26:22.6 good enough for a 6-place finish. Finally, sophomore Gabriel Esparza finished right behind Hernandez with a time of 26:26.1 a performance that put him in 7th place.

With their fantastic performances, Guzman, Hernandez, and Esparza qualify to represent the Saint Xavier University Men’s team in the Nationals. This will be the 4th straight appearance for Hernandez in national competition.

Last year, Hernandez finished 60th overall and finished the 8k race with a time of 25:42. Hernandez’s last year performance is most significant due to the fact that Hernandez was injured the summer before and was unable to train. Seeing as he’s been healthy throughout the year, Hernandez may have an improved performance and with this being his final year there’s no doubt that he’s looking to go out on top.

As a team, the men finished with a time 27:26.6.

The five competitors will represent Saint Xavier University in the national tournament this upcoming November 18. 2017 at Fort Vancouver Historic Course.

Cougars, let’s take a second to not only congratulate our 5 runners representing our school at nationals, but let’s also congratulate both the women and men’s team for another amazing season.

For a recap of future events and happenings on campus keep it locked here at the Xavierite.   

Kenneth Washington

Sports Reporter

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