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2013 Xavier University of Louisiana Women's Cross Country Preview
Jackson, Fakler have Gold Nuggets on the move again

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     The best women's cross country rivalry in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference involves two teammates, not two schools.
     Xavier University of Louisiana's Zahri Jackson and Catherine Fakler finished 1-3 as freshmen at the GCAC Championships in 2011 and 1-2 a year ago. Their 2012 duel was memorable, with Jackson running 5,000 meters in a Xavier-record 18 minutes, 54.69 seconds to beat Fakler (18:55.20) by a half-
About the Gold Nuggets

Head Coach:  Joseph Moses (LSU 1994), ninth season; 231-360-1 at Xavier
2012 Overall Record:  34-39
2012 GCAC Finish:  1st place out of 6 schools
2012 NAIA Finish:  31st place out of 32 schools
Letterwomen:  6 returning, 1 lost
second. Their times were the second- and third-fastest at the conference meet since 1998. It was the first time any Xavier female covered a 5K course in less than 19 minutes.
     But while Jackson has beaten Fakler 9-of-10 times at Xavier in meets of 5,000 meters or less, Fakler is 3-1 against Jackson in 6,000-meter races. All three of Fakler's 6K victories over Jackson were in school-record performances, including 24:07.38 at the 2012 Mississippi College/Watson Ford Invitational.
     "Both Zahri and Catherine are very talented runners," ninth-year XU coach Joseph Moses said. "Zahri has more speed than Catherine, so it's no surprise that Zahri excels at the 5K. But in the 6K, it's been a different story. Catherine has shown the endurance to handle the longer distance."
     Xavier will be a prohibitive favorite to win its eighth consecutive GCAC team championship this year and earn its third consecutive NAIA National Championships berth. The Gold Nuggets had the top six finishers in last year's race — Briana Simms was third, Hali Yarmush fourth, Hannah Finnegan fifth and Donyť Coleman sixth — and all return. Simms (19:38.78), Yarmush (20:01.20), Finnegan (20:02.61) and Coleman (20:42.52) also posted XU bests at conference to help the Nuggets win by 63 points and record the first perfect score by a GCAC women's champion since 1996.
     If she can maintain her 5K form against Fakler, Jackson will become the first GCAC runner, female or male, to win the individual championship three times.
     Coleman — who could become the third XU female to be All-GCAC four times — is the team's only senior. Yarmush is a junior, and Simms and Finnegan are sophomores.
     There are three newcomers: Reeka Belton, Ashley Flournoy and Danielle Rogers, all freshmen. Of the three, Belton has the best 5K time, 20:06.
     "We should have another competitive team," Moses said. "Hopefully we'll improve our times again and move up in the standings at nationals."
     Xavier will compete five times before the conference meet and begin the season Aug. 30 in the Mississippi College Opener in Clinton on the same course where the XU women will defend their GCAC title. Of special interest to the Nuggets is their Sept. 21 meet, the Ram Ramble Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas. The host will be Texas Wesleyan, which received votes in the NAIA Coaches' Preseason Top 25 poll and ranked 33rd.


Gulf Coast Athletic Conference

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
The Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets compete in Division I of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Xavier fields men's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis and track and field and women's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Xavier University of Louisiana
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Campus Box 92
New Orleans, LA 70125
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