ABILENE, Texas – The Lamar University men’s cross country team, led by individual champion Jamie Crowe, won its fifth straight Southland Conference championship, and 20th overall, holding off archrival McNeese by the closest of margins on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, the LU women placed second, finishing only behind the host Abilene Christian Wildcats.
In the men’s race, Cardinals and Cowboys each finished with 42 points, putting a tie-breaker scenario into place to determine the champion. In the tie-breaker, the head-to-head finishes of the top five runners from each school are used to determine the winner. LU won four of those five matchups to win the title.
“We had a perfect execution of our race strategy today,” LU coach Tony Houchin said. “There was absolutely zero margin for error.”
Crowe won the 8-kilometer race in a time of 24 minutes, 29.1 seconds, 4.7 seconds ahead of Nathan Jones of McNeese. As a result of his win, Crowe, a junior transfer, was named the Southland Conference’s men’s cross country athlete of the year and the newcomer of the year.
“This was a fun race to watch,” Houchin said. “It was extremely competitive. McNeese gave us everything they had. We had tons of people step up for us today.”
The Cardinals had five runners in the top 15 on a blustery day in Abilene, with temperatures in the 40s with a strong wind out of the north.
“The weather did not have an effect on us,” Houchin said. “I refuse to make it an issue. Every team has to run in the same conditions.”
LU’s Cormac Kelly was seventh in 24:56.6, just ahead of teammate Matthew Arnold, who was eighth in 24:59.0. Freddie Gasbarri placed 11th in 25:07.1, while Kyle Garcia took 15th in 25:13.9.
Incarnate Word finished third in the 13-team field with 99 points.
In the women’s race, Abilene Christian used a 1-2-3 finish en route to a 29-point win over the second-place Cardinals.
The Wildcats had 44 points. LU finished with 73 points, while McNeese was third with 80 points.
“Abilene Christian is a strong team, and they were especially tough on their home course,” Houchin said. “There absolutely nothing we could have done today to beat them. I am really proud of our women. Second place is a great finish.”
LU’s Evelyn Chavez, the defending Southland Conference champion, finished eighth with a clocking of 21:38.1 for 6 kilometers. Alexandria Hackett of ACU won the race in 20:27.1, while her twin sister, Michaela, was second in 20:31.1.
LU’s Georgia Tuckfield was 11th in 21:50.7. Katie Buckley placed 13th in 21:54.8, Katy Whiteoak was 14th in 21:59.5, while Evie Reavis rounded out the scorers with a 27th-place finish in 22:35.7.
“Georgia Tuckfield had the best race of her career, and everyone else also stepped it up today,” Houchin said. “Katy Whiteoak was named freshman of the year. Today was a tremendous day for both teams. We’re bringing plenty of hardware back to Lamar University.”
The teams return to action when they compete in the NCAA Regionals, set for Nov. 10 in College Station, Texas.