South Cental Regional: RecapNovember 3, 2007

Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern men's and women's cross country teams swept the 2007 NCAA Division II South Central Regional Cross Country Championships this morning and both will head on to the National Championships held on November 17 at Fred G. Hughes Stadium in Joplin.

Both teams swept their second straight meet, as the Lions followed up their MIAA Championships with a Regional title.

The Southern men led after the second split and defeated eight time defending regional champ and 2006 National Champ, Abilene Christian by 14 points (41-55). ACU came into the meet ranked No. 1 in Division II.

Southern placed all five runners in the top 13, while the Wildcats took home first, second and fourth, but lost out on their ninth title in a row after defending National Champ Nicodemus Naimadu did not run in the event. Pittsburg State finished third to round out the top three National Qualifiers in the men's race. Southwest Baptist was fourth, followed by Emporia State, East Central, Fort Hays, Truman, Tarleton State and Central Missouri to round out the top ten.

Southern's Dustin Dixon moved into third place after the five mile mark and finished the 10k course with a time of 31:02.0, averaging a five minute mile. The time was a full 1:29 faster than his 10th place finish at the 2006 regional. Isaac Garcia was eighth with a time of 31:30.6, while Brennon Benkert and Dustin Miller were 11th and 13th, respectively. Kyle Davis finished 40th, while Derek Wright was 73rd.

ACU's Serge Gasore and Julius Nyango finished first and second, while the Wildcats' Philip Birgen was fourth. Southwest Baptist's Michael Pierce was sixth, and St. Edwards' David Fuentes was seventh, both qualifying as individuals for the National Championships.

The Missouri Southern women won their fourth meet in a row and have finished no lower than second place this year when the Lions were second at their own Southern Stampede earlier in the season.

Southern, ranked first in the region and ninth nationally, scored 65 points and finished 36 points in front of second place Abilene Christian. Both the Lions and Wildcats qualified as teams for the National Meet. Pittsburg State was third, followed by Fort Hays, Dallas Baptist, Southwest Baptist, Northwest Missouri, Truman State, Central Missouri and East Central to round out the top ten.

Southern's Kimi Shank finished fourth in the event with a 6k time of 21:28.6 to lead a trio of three Lions in the top ten. Kara Eckard was seventh with a time of 21:51.5, while Ashley Bunch was eighth at 22:00.6. Courtney Waltbillig finished 14th, while Kari Fritchie finished 34th. Taylor Whitacre was 43rd and Victoria Kline finished 58th.

Abilene Christian freshman Winrose Karunda, who was just declared eligible by the NCAA prior to this event, finished first with a time of 20:39.8. Emporia State's Jonel Rossbach was second and qualified for the National Meet. ACU's Loice Cheobi was third, followed by Shank and ACU's Mary Mwangi. Truman State's Danna Kelly finished sixth, qualifying for the National Meet, as well.

Both men's and women's teams will have two weeks off to prepare for the NCAA Championships which will be run on the same course at Missouri Southern's Hughes Stadium on November 17.

-Courtesy Missouri Southern State