TROY, Ala. – The UALR men’s cross country team had an outstanding day at the Sun Belt Cross Country Championship, placing second overall and finishing three runners in the top 10.
The Trojans scored 54 points, 31 behind Sun Belt newcomer UT Arlington, to come in second. UALR’s score was 32 points better than third-place South Alabama.
George Gathuru was the Trojans’ top finisher, crossing the end line in 25:44.0 for the eight-kilometer course. Gathuru, the junior national champion last season, ran an average pace of 5:11 per mile as he led UALR for the second time this season. Gathuru was named to the Sun Belt First Team for his top-five finish.
Next for the Trojans was senior Markus Pearson in ninth place, earning Sun Belt Second Team honors. Pearson completed the race in 25:59.3, a mere 1.4 seconds ahead of classmate Shaun Koehn. Koehn was 10th overall, also nabbing Sun Belt Second Team honors, and ran an average of 5:14 per mile.
UALR’s next runner to finish was John Vodacek. The sophomore came in 14th place in 26:19.0, earning Sun Belt Third Team honors for his efforts. Vodacek was followed by junior Joseph Aguilar in 17th place, and Aguilar finished the Trojans’ scoring.
Also running for UALR were Dalton Richey (38th place, 27:41.1), Caleb De La Paz (40th, 27:43.6) and Brendon Tucker (54th, 28:44.1).
The UALR women came in 10th place in their race earlier in the morning with 283 total points. The Trojans were just 21 points away from ninth place.
UALR was led by freshman Rebekah Gibbons’ 45th-place finish. Gibbons earned 44 points for the Trojans with her time of 20:21.5 on the five-kilometer course.
Junior Brianne Mitchell crossed the finish line second for UALR in 21:02.6 in 54th place overall, and Tori Copeland was close behind her in 56th place in 21:10.3. The Trojans’ fourth finisher was freshman Abigail Green in 70th place in 22:40.7, and Brittney Brasuell rounded out the UALR contingent at the championships with a 71st-place finish in 23:20.9.
Arkansas State won the women’s meet with 50 points, and the Red Wolves’ Kristina Aubert won the individual title in 17:28.2.
Both UALR teams will now compete in the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco, Texas, on Nov. 15. The top two teams at that meet advance to the NCAA Championship meet in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.