Xavier teams run to 3rd straight GCAC championships
November 8, 2008
CLINTON, Miss. — Xavier University of Louisiana
got second-place finishes from Ebony Harding and Ray Walston on Saturday and
rolled to its third consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference team
championships in men's and women's cross country.
The team titles earned the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets
automatic bids to the NAIA National Championships on Nov. 22 at Kenosha, Wis.
The national berths are the second for both Xavier teams and their first since 2002.
Xavier scored 34 points in the women's standings, 20 fewer
than runner-up Belhaven. The Gold Rush outscored Spring Hill 33-42 to win the men's
Harding was the GCAC women's runner-up for the third
consecutive year. The junior from Baton Rouge, La., ran 5,000 meters in 19
minutes, 48.84 seconds to break her school record for the third tiime this season.
"I finally broke 20 minutes," Harding said. "I really
wanted to win the race, but I can't be disappointed because we qualified for
nationals and I ran a personal best."
Walston, a freshman from Atlanta, covered the 8,000-meter
men's course in 27:16.90 to earn his third top-five finish of the season and record
the Gold Rush's fastest time at a GCAC meet since 1998.
"Ray ran well. I was very pleased with him," Xavier
coach Joseph Moses said. "He's having a great freshman year and has room for
much more improvement."
Xavier produced four male and four female All-GCAC
runners by virtue of top-10 finishes. Darren Wallace (fifth place, 28:07.49)
of the Gold Rush was all-conference for the third consecutive year, and Bryan
Khan (seventh, 29:41.60) and Joe Drexler-Dreis (eighth, 30:08.96) were
All-GCAC for the second time.
Harding was All-GCAC for the third consecutive year
and was joined by teammates Anna D'Souza (fifth, 20:59.12) Stacey Windon
(sixth, a personal-best 21:16.22) and Ashley Taylor (eighth, a personal-best
21:33.28). Windon was all-conference for the second straight year, and
D'Souza and Taylor are freshmen.
Xavier is the second GCAC member to sweep the men's
and women's team titles three consecutive years and the first since Mobile did
it six straight seasons (1994-99).
"I'm very excited for our teams," said Moses, who was
voted men's GCAC Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season. "I'm
blessed to have a great group of men and women who can compete at this level
and get Xavier into the national meet."
Spring Hill swept the individual titles. Freshman
Kate Imwalle won the women's race in 18:42.20, and senior Patrick Aucoin
won in 27:01.42 to become the GCAC's first repeat male individual champion
since Mobile's Keith Melanson in 1993-94.
The top five finishers in each division, excluding the
team champion, also qualifed for the national meet. Qualifying in the women's
race were Imwalle, Belhaven's Christie Barber, Libby Brown and Jessica Gunning
and Loyola's Madeline Falcone. GCAC men's qualifiers for nationals were Aucoin
and brothers Will and Mark Kirkikis of Spring Hill, along with Mobile's Michael
Sinkey and Dennis Kimeli.