Sam Houston looks for top performances from several athletes.
Top runners for the Sam Houston women include Alyssa Dooley, Victoria Gemeny and Sara Collazos. The trio finished first, second and third in the Bearkats' last outing as the Sam Houston women won the Centenary Invitational on a course the same length as the Southland race. Dooley also posted a runner-up finish at the Houston Baptist race.
Karl Schreiber, Clint Anders and Freddy Arellano have paced the men's team this fall. The Bearkats took first place in their last race at Centenary two weeks ago. Schreiber and Arellano each have top top 10 race finishes to their credit this season.
The Lamar men's team will be seeking its sixth consecutive and league-leading 11th overall Southland title while the Ladyjacks hope to claim their second title in a row after winning a league-best sixth title last season.
Lamar returns two runners that placed in the top 10 in last year's championship with juniors Bob Ahimbisibwe and Matt Johnsen, who placed second and third, respectively. Ahimbisibwe completed the 8K course with a time of 24:49.7 last season while Johnsen, who was honored as the 2010 freshman of the year, finished right behind his teammate with a time of 24:50.1.
On the women's side, Stephen F. Austin sophomore Lauren Smith, the 2010 newcomer of the year, returns to lead the Ladyjacks to a championship on their home course. Smith, who finished second in the 6K race in 2010, will look to hold off last year's individual champion Emily Koenig from UT Arlington, who paced the field with a time of 21:30.3.
While Lamar returns two of the top three runners, only three other top-10 finishers from the 2010 championships return on the men's side, including the defending champion junior Patrick Kimeli. Kimeli, the 2010 male athlete of the year from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, turned in a time of 24:47.0 last season, edging Ahimbisibwe by less than three seconds. UTSA is the only other team with runners from the top-10 last year with seniors Cole Reveal (25:22.7) and Albert Cardenas (25.27.3), the eighth and ninth place finishers, respectively.
Seven of the top-10 women's runners return from last season to compete in the 6K run. Koenig, last season's athlete and freshman of the year, looks to defend her individual title, as she finished eight seconds ahead of the field. Koenig was the only Maverick runner to place in the top 10 last season. Stephen F. Austin is the only school returning multiple top-10 finishers from 2010 with Smith and senior Stephanie Ganter. Smith (21:38.0) was the 2010 runnerup while Ganter (21:44.4) finished fifth on the way to the Ladyjacks' team title. Lamar's Taylor Cloy (21:20.8) finished third and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Julia Sambu (21:43.1) crossed the line in fifth last season. Texas State senior Steffanie Armstrong (21:59.4) and UTSA sophomore Samantha Fish (22:04.1) rounded out the top-10 a year ago with ninth and 10th place finishes, respectively.
Lamar leads the men's teams in number of cross country championships with 10 while McNeese State has won seven, winning its last title in 2000. Former Southland members Abilene Christian and North Texas have won seven and six team titles, respectively. Stephen F. Austin and Lamar hold the conference record for most consecutive titles won with five. Stephen F. Austin claimed titles from 2001-05, while Lamar has won the championship every year since 2006.
Stephen F. Austin leads the women's teams with six championships with UTSA right behind the Ladyjacks with five titles. UT Arlington has won four while Lamar and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi have won three apiece.