NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Cross Country Championship ResultsÂÂ

WINGATE, N.C. -- The Mars Hill College cross country teams won both the mens and womens titles in the 2005 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional cross country meet, hosted by Wingate University Saturday morning at the Wingate University cross country facility.

The Mars Hill womens team will make its fifth appearance at nationals and its fourth in a row. The 2005 NCAA Division II National Championships will be hosted by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona on Saturday, November 19. The Mars Hill mens team will make its fourth consecutive trip to the national meet. Mars Hill coach Mike Owens was voted NCAA Division II Southeast Region Coach of the Year for both men and women.

Womens 6K
In the womens 6K race, Mars Hill had five runners in the top 25 to take the team win. The Lions posted 68 points, topping South Atlantic Conference rival Carson-Newman by 20 markers (68-88). Both Mars Hill and Carson-Newman advance to the nationals. Mars Hill junior Kate Prichard finished second with a time of 23:31, while Lion senior Rachel Retallick charted third with a time of 23:35. Prichard and Retallick both earned All-Region honors. All total, 124 women completed the 6K race.

Winston-Salem State University freshman Irene Jeptolo won the 6K event with a time of 23:25. Jeptolo is charting new territory for the Rams; the 2005 regional event marked the first time in the history of the WSSU cross country program that the Rams were represented in post-season competition.

Two Anderson (S.C.) College student-athletes also qualified for nationals. Trojan sophomore Jennifer Hitt earns a NCAA nationals ticket for the second year in a row. She finished fourth (an exact repeat of her 2004 performance) with a time of 23:49. Hitt will be joined by freshman teammate Diana Willard, who earned fifth place with a 23:55 clocking.

The top 16 finishers earned All-Southeast Region honors. Host Wingate University had three runners on the All-Southeast Region team. The Bulldogs compiled 93 points to place third out of 21 teams. Wingate senior Natalie Creech (Pennington Gap, Va.) capped a brilliant career by finishing 12th with a time of 24:52. She was joined on the region honor squad by freshman Ashley Condrey (Plumtree, N.C.) and senior Karen Porter (Islamorada, Fla.), who placed 15th and 16th, respectively.

North Carolina Central University equaled Wingates achievement with three All-Region picks, led by sophomore Yolanda Barber (seventh, 24:03). Carson-Newman, Lenoir-Rhyne and Anderson had two runners each in the top 16. Carson-Newman Eagle freshman phenom Aubrey Morris placed sixth with a time of 24:00. C-N senior Margaux Cowan-Banker (the 2004 winner) was eighth with a 24:22 mark.

Mens 10K
Livingstone College sophomore Darius Shade set a Wingate University cross country facility record en route to a victory in the mens 10K race. Shade ran a 32:14, skimming four seconds off the old record held by Larry Marshall of St. Augustines College (32:18). Shade will be making his second consecutive trip to nationals, as he placed second to Marshall at the 2004 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.

Mars Hill had four runners on the 16-person All-Southeast Region team. The Lions had 48 team points, topping second-place St. Andrews Presbyterian College 48-82. Mars Hill junior Jon Stoehr led the way, placing second with a time of 33:29. Senior James Thompson (fourth, 33:37) and sophomores Dustin Whitlow (fifth, 33:42) and Tyler Wilkinson (14th, 34:46) joined Stoehr on the All-Region squad.

St. Andrews Presbyterian College sophomore Chris Miller led the Knights charge with a third-place finish in the 108-entrant field. Miller posted a time of 33:35. Teammate Mitch Cooper finished seventh, posting a mark of 33:58. SAPC junior Tim Bourkes time of 34:57 was good for 16th place.

Carson-Newman senior Ryan Althaus also qualified for nationals as an individual, placing sixth with a time of 33:44. Althaus will be making his first-ever trip to the NCAA national championships.

Lenoir-Rhyne College (116 points) and host Wingate University (133 points) placed third and fourth, respectively, on the team leaderboard. Wingate was the only team besides Mars Hill and St. Andrews with multiple All-Region selections. Bulldog freshman Jayce Watson (Millersport, Ohio) was ninth (34:18), while sophomore Brandon DiBianca (Southern Pines, N.C.) was 13th (34:33). Lenoir-Rhynes depth was crucial, as the Bears had five runners place in the top 30.

Irene Jeptolo and Darius Shade were recognized as the 2005 NCAA Division II Southeast Region Runners of the Year by the NCAA Division II Cross Country Coaches Association.

-- Courtesy Wingate
Special thanks to St. Andrews Presbyterian College SID Kevin Buczek and Winston-Salem State University Assistant Director of Athletics for Marketing and Promotions Chris Zona for their help with this story.)