LITTLE ROCK – The cross country postseason begins this weekend when the Trojans head to Alabama for the Sun Belt Conference Championships. The UALR men will look to defend their title from 2012 while the women seek their first championship since 2005.
The event, taking place on the Trojan Oaks Golf Course in Troy, Ala., begins at 10 a.m. with the women’s 5K race and continues at 11 a.m. with the men’s 8K race.
The Trojan men are ranked No. 13 in the South Central Region entering the meet, and the only Sun Belt school ahead of them is UT Arlington. The UALR women are unranked regionally, and four teams from the conference are in the top 15 of their respective regions.
Both UALR teams have a history of success at the Sun Belt Championship. Besides claiming the title last season by a 27-point margin, the Trojans also won the championship in 2007, 2002 and 2001. The UALR women’s team won in 2002 and 2001 as well as their most recent victory in 2005.
So far this season, the Trojans have taken part in three meets. UALR’s men claimed the team title at the Gerald Richey Invite in mid-September, with sophomore transfer George Gathuru leading the way. Shaun Koehn was the top individual finisher for the Trojans’ next two races, the Chile Pepper Festival in early October and the UALR Invite two weekends ago. The men took seventh at the Chile Pepper Festival and won three of four dual meets at the UALR Invite.
On the women’s side, Emma Dahl was the team’s top finisher at the Gerald Richey Invite and at the UALR Invite. Rebekah Gibbons led the pack at the Chile Pepper Festival. As a team, UALR took fourth in the season opener and seventh in Fayetteville before winning one dual meet on the Rebsamen Golf Course on Oct. 19.
This weekend, the top five finishers will be named to the All-Conference First Team. The sixth through 10th finishers will get second-team honors, and the 11th through 15th finishers will make the All-Conference Third Team. UALR had six athletes on the All-Conference teams combined last year.
The winners of each race will get Most Outstanding Performer Awards. The team’s most recent Most Outstanding Performer was Whitney Kerth in 2006. Coach of the Year honors will also be handed out. UALR’s Milton Williams is the reigning trophy holder on the men’s side.
After completing the conference championship, the Trojans will have two weeks off to prepare for the NCAA South Central Region Championships in Waco, Texas, on Nov. 15. The top two finishing teams at the regional will advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championship on Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.