Wingate, N.C.----The Mars Hill College cross country teams swept the team titles and won five of the six individual awards at the Food Lion South Atlantic Conference cross country meet held this morning at the Wingate University cross country facility.
Individually, course records fell in both the women’s race and the men’s race. In the women’s 5K race, Tusculum College junior Amanda Musick won the event with a course-record time of 19:15. The former record was 19:18 (Amanda Cook, Lees-McRae, 2001). Musick was the only non-Mars Hill individual award winner.
In the men’s 8K race, Mars Hill sophomore Craig Eckstein shattered his own course record by more than one minute with a time of 25:35. Earlier this fall, Eckstein won the Wingate University Cross Country Invitational with a then-record time of 26:55. Prior to this season, the course record (27:11) belonged to current Mars Hill assistant coach (and former Lion standout) Brock Bailey.
Musick and Eckstein earn SAC “runner of the year” honors with their victories. The SAC “freshman of the year” on the women’s side is Mars Hill’s Kate Prichard. The winner of the 2003 Wingate University Cross Country Invitational, Prichard finished second this afternoon with a time of 19:18.
The SAC “freshman of the year” for the men is Mars Hill’s Jon Stoehr. The Wisconsin native completed today’s event in 26:50, good enough for fifth place. The Lions claimed five of the top 12 spots to win their seventh straight men’s team title with 35 points. Lenoir-Rhyne College finished second with 47 points, followed by Catawba College with 83 markers.
The Mars Hill women placed five runners in the top 14 to claim the SAC crown with 39 points. The Lions have won six of the last seven Food Lion SAC women’s cross country titles. Carson-Newman College was second with 80 points. Tusculum took third place with 90 points. Host Wingate University was a close fourth place with 91 points.
Veteran Mars Hill College head coach Mike Owens was named South Atlantic Conference “coach of the year” for both men’s and women’s cross country. Owens earns the award for men’s cross country for the eighth straight year. He has won the women’s coaching award five times.
Three Wingate University runners earned All-South Atlantic Conference honors. On the women’s side, sophomore Natalie Creech (Pennington Gap, Va.) earned first team laurels. Creech placed third with a personal-best time of 19:19.
Creech was joined on the all-league team by sophomore Lindsay Boldt (Spring Hill, Fla.). A second team selection in 2002, Boldt returned to the second team by placing 10th with a season-best time of 20:12.
For the Wingate men, freshman Brad Topper (Thurmont, Md.) ran his best race as a collegian, finishing the 8K course in 27:00. Topper’s eighth-place finish earns him second team All-SAC honors. On the team charts, the Wingate men finished fifth with 114 points.
All eight South Atlantic Conference schools will compete in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals Saturday, Nov. 8. The event will be held at the SAS Soccer Complex in Cary, N.C. The NCAA Division II national championship meet will be held at the same venue on Nov. 22.
(Release courtesy of Wingate University Sports Information)