CU - Smith and McConnell run strong at WHAC Championships

CU - Smith and McConnell run strong at WHAC Championships

Provided by CU

Rod Wortley

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - After two hours of rain and 116 men tearing up the course at Riverside Park, the Cornerstone women faced more rain, cold wind and slick mud on their way to a third place finish at the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Cross Country Championship. Sophomore Kelli Smith led the pack with a fourth place finish while freshman Alexis McConnell came in sixth. The two now qualify for the NAIA National Championships in Vancouver, Wash. in two weeks.

Through the first mile of the 5,000 meter event, CU put sophomore Kelli Smith and freshman Alexis McConnell in a large lead pack that included most of Aquinas' top five and all five of Madonna's scoring places. By two miles that group was down to six with senior, Stephanie Johnston of Concordia pulling ahead and looking for the win in her final WHAC meet. Her lead held until the final 300 meters when Smith, driving hard pulled even along with Melissa Winchester and Adri Sigafoose of Aquians. Madonna's Christina Murphy and MeConnell were also still in the hunt. The Aquinas duo pulled clear in the end with Winchester winning in 18:12. Smith held on for fourth in 18:19 with McConnell's freshman record 18:22 good for sixth.

Behind them, CU's 3-5 pack arrived just twelve seconds apart. Junior, Valerie Richter ran 19:44 in 27th, followed by senior, Ally Rabe, 28th in 19:47 and freshman, Sierra Albus 29th in 19:56.

Despite the conditions, junior, Jessie Langmeyer lowered her personal best to 21:28 to finish 60th and freshman D'Amaie Davis turned in a new best 23:49 for 82nd.

Favored Aquinas put five in the top fourteen to win with 38 points. Madonna had all five of their scorers finish between fifth and fifteenth for second with 54 points. Cornerstone's 93 points put them third ahead of Indiana Tech with 115 and Siena Heights with 140 in the ten team field.