Cross Country >> UBC NAIA 2004

UBC CROSS-COUNTRY TEAM MAKES A SPLASH IN MUDDY LOUISVILLE

UBC Women's XC team 3rd at 2004 NAIA Champs

University of B.C. cross-country runners took full advantage of sloppy, slippery conditions Saturday to finish second in the over-all team standings at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Association national cross-country championships at Louisville, Ky.

The Thunderbird women finished third in the women's team standings to improve upon a fifth-place effort at the 2003 event. The T-Bird men's team, ninth last year, finished an impressive sixth Saturday despite coming into the national championships ranked 13th.

"There is no doubt this is the best performance ever by UBC at this event," declared cross-country team head coach Marek Jedrzejek. "To finish second over-all as a team is fantastic because last year we weren't even in the top 10, we didn't even get a mention. And for both men's and women's team to improve upon last year's performance is great. We are, despite the conditions, very happy campers."

A week of rain created quagmire conditions on the trails at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville but the UBC runners embraced the conditions as perfectly "wet coast."

"It actually dried up a bit today but it still had to be one of the muddiest races I have ever run in, and that is saying something given how much rain we get back home," mused fourth-year T-Bird Morgan Titus, who led the men's squad with his 36th-place effort to improve considerably on his 87th placing from 2003.

"It was pretty fun, but tough running - the times were definitely slower, 20 to 30 seconds slower than last year and a lot of people were losing their shoes in the mud. I'm a strength runner so I didn't have too much problem but you could see it was affecting the guys who were used to running on prairie conditions. But this is a great way to end the season."

Simon Fraser University took the over-all team title and retained the women' s team championship with 95 points. Concordia-Nebraska finished second in the women's division at 129 with the Thunderbird women third at 161. Fourth-year nursing student Celia Ambery led her UBC teammates in 11th, completing the five-kilometre course in 18 minutes, 16 seconds. Defending champion Mirriam Kaumbia of Oklahoma Baptist won the five-kilometre race in 16:53.70.

"Today, that's what you call real cross-country," said Ambery. "There were little lakes, little creeks running everywhere. We all had huge spikes on. We had a really great day as a team, we stepped it up big. I think it helped that we had trained on the rugby fields at UBC which were really soaked the last couple of weeks, and at Jericho Park which can also get pretty wet."

Teammate Shannon Elmer finished 29th in 19:02 despite a slow start that forced her to literally claw her way through the pack.

"That was a gong show, that race was a mess," she laughed. "It was so wet I used my 15-millimetre spikes to get a grip. I looked like a raptor out there with these huge talons on my feet. Individually I wish I could have done a bit better but I'm very happy with the team effort."

UBC women's team captain Heather McEwen finished 35th in the field of 258 runners followed by teammates Kris Carpenter (54th), Kimmy Taylor (70th), Sheena Murphy (72nd) and Nicole Akeroyd (85th).

Soimo Kiplaget of Missouri's Lindenwood University won the men's eight-kilometre race in 24:17.20 while Virginia Intermont took the men's team title with 54 points. The UBC men came into the event ranked 13th but prior to the championships Jedrzejek declared his men's team a top-10 contender. Sixth equaled the men's best NAIA team performance, posted back in 2001.

"It's maybe higher than even we expected, maybe we even underestimated ourselves a bit," he said. "But I knew we were better than the rankings showed and I was confident we could finish top 10 but this is a bonus."

Men's race at NAIA 2004

In 2003 Thunderbird runner Jerry Ziak won the NAIA men's race to end his UBC cross-country career, leading the squad to a ninth-place finish. Teamwork prevailed Saturday as the UBC men finished in solid, stalwart fashion to earn the sixth-place team score. Behind Titus teammate Jeff Symonds was 45th in the field of 259, followed by team captain Chris Durkin in 57th and Shane Carlos 60th. Geoff Webb (140th), Tristen Simpson (161st) and Nick Elson (171st) rounded out the UBC finishers.

"There was a time we were wondering if we would even make the nationals," said Titus. "I thought we might make 10th. This was such an even effort today, a real team effort. We didn't have any stars but our top five are all really solid and we finished close together. I think everyone had their best race out there today."

While ecstatic with the women's team performance Ambery felt some disappointment at her individual result.

"I thought it was a reasonable expectation to finish in the top 10," she explained, recalling her ninth-place effort in 2003. "As it was a couple of girls finished ahead of me and I had beaten them earlier in the year. I gave it my all, I really couldn't have run any faster today."

For more information on the NAIA championships or the UBC cross-country team contact: Marek Jedrzejek - head coach (604) 822-6259

UBC RESULTS NAIA Cross-country Championships At Louisville, Ky.

Women (5K)
Team: 1. SFU, 95 points; 2. Concordia (Neb.) 129; UBC 161; 4. Malone 218; 5. Azusa Pacific, 247.

Individual:
11) Celia Ambery, 18:16
29) Shannon Elmer, 18:34
35) Heather McEwen, 18:39
54) Kris Carpenter, 19:02
70) Kimmy Taylor, 19:20
72) Sheena Murphy, 19:23
85) Nicole Akeroyd, 19:30

Men (8K)
Team: 1. Virginia Intermont, 54: 2. Aquinas 175; 3. Lindenwood, 213; 4. SFU,
215; Azusa Pacific, 237; UBC 248.

Individual:
36) Morgan Titus, 25:50
45) Jeff Symonds, 25:59
57) Chris Durkin, 26:10
60) Shane Carlos, 26:14
140) Geoff Webb, 27:08
161) Tristen Simpson, 27:24
171) Nick Elson, 27:33

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