CALDWELL, Idaho — As it turns out, the Southern Oregon University men's cross country team still owns the Cascade Conference. A few of the women aren't far from the top, either.
The second-ranked Raider men put nine runners in the top 15, led by another runaway performance by Eric Avila, and won the Cascade Conference Championships for the sixth straight season Saturday morning at Brothers Park.
SOU accumulated 31 points, handily missing second-place Eastern Oregon's total of 54 with an average time that was 16 seconds better.
Two SOU women earned all-conference status with top-12 showings, helping the Raiders improve on their sixth-place finish of a year ago with a team standing of third behind second-ranked College of Idaho and No. 9 Northwest Christian. Alexandra Rudd was 10th and Summer Cano 12th, and Rebecca Lupescu will also likely be awarded an individual bid to the NAIA Championships for placing 15th.
SOU's Grier Gatlin was named the men's CCC Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Avila dominated his third straight race by completing the 8,000-meter course in 25 minutes, 32 seconds, losing runner-up Isaac Updike by more than 16 seconds. Concordia University's Eric Alldritt was the early pace-setter, holding the lead through the majority of the first two 2,000-meter loops, but ended up third in 25:50.
The rest of SOU's pack rushed in shorty after: Eric Ghelfi in fifth (25:57); Jared Hixon in seventh (26:11); Hector Aleman in eighth (26:13); Cary Dunagan in 10th (26:19); and Matt Battaglia in 12th (26:20) to pull in all-conference accolades. The next three spots were also occupied by Raiders — Tyler VanDyke, Trevor Lynn and Kevin Jorgensen.
Avila and Hixon were both repeats on the all-CCC team.
On the women's side, Rudd just missed an individual berth to nationals last season but locked it up Saturday by completing 5,000 meters in 19:11. Cano came in at 19:15 and Lupescu was 11 seconds behind her. Jessie Rozario (19:59) and Aspen Abbott (20:26) were next in for the Raiders at 21st and 31st, respectively.
The NAIA Championships will be held in Lawrence, Kan., on Nov. 23. Last year, the SOU men were second at nationals and the one SOU women's representative, Anne Hagy, was 94th.
CONCORDIA 2, SOU 0 — At Portland, Southern Oregon University's season ended in familiar fashion at top-ranked Concordia.
The Cavaliers scored twice in the first half and suffocated SOU defensively, and the Raiders were eliminated in the Cascade Conference tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year. Concordia has won all nine championships since the tournament's inception and will play for another on Nov. 16 against Corban.
Bobbi Eckler put the Cavs (16-1-1) up in the 21st minute with a 23-yard chip shot. Hannah Kimsey's cross to Ashley Ames was deposited from eight yards out in the 37th minute.
The Raiders, who ended the season with a record of 10-6-3, got off five shots all afternoon and didn't put one on goal.
Olivia Brock was credited with the shutout, her sixth straight. SOU goalkeeper Kylie Moltzen picked up five saves.
The Raiders also went down at Concordia in the 2012 semifinals, 1-0.
SOU 92, MASTER'S 80 — At Santa Clarita, Calif., Eric Thompson made sure that he and Southern Oregon didn't miss their first chance to bounce back at The Master's.
A night after Thompson and the Raiders hit almost nothing but iron, the junior post carried the fourth-ranked Raiders with 34 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
David Sturner contributed 18 points and 12 boards as SOU improved to 3-1. Jeff Bush was a shade off a double-double with 11 points, nine assists and four boards.
Thompson's takeover began immediately following 16 unanswered Mustang points that gave them a 28-18 lead. He responded with three 3-pointers during a 15-5 spur that leveled the score.
SOU went up for good with an eight-point run that broke a 50-all tie in the second half, capped by Thompson's 3-pointer and layup. When Master's cut it to 60-59, Bush got in the paint for a layup, Thompson hit two free throws and Sturner knocked down a 3 to open it up again.
Kyle Tedder helped build a 80-72 lead with consecutive 3-pointers with four minutes left. He had 11 points.
SOU 91, ARIZONA CHRISTIAN 81 — At Phoenix, a hot-shooting first half allowed Southern Oregon University to cruise in the second.
The win was the second for the Raiders (4-0) against the Firestorm (2-2) in as many days at Fultz Memorial Gym. Ashley Claussen led the charge again with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
She hit both of her 3-pointers in the second stanza, but the majority of the Raiders did their damage in the first when they converted 21 of 40 attempts from the field and took a 54-32 lead into halftime.
Kristen Schoenherr just missed a triple-double with 10 points and career-highs of nine assists and nine rebounds. Carly Meister kicked in 13 points and seven rebounds, Bree Park hit three triples on her way to 13 points and Allison Gida contributed 11 points, four boards and three assists.
The Raiders had a 56-37 rebounding edge, coming down with 19 on the offensive end.
Prayer Branham led Arizona Christian with 29 points but needed 24 shots to get them. She added six assists and four steals while Sarah Beth Hock had 15 points.
RAIDERS WIN DUAL — At Ashland, Brock Gutches' technical fall and Jacob Abrams' pin were the exclamation points on eighth-ranked Southern Oregon's season-opening dual win over No. 13 Menlo College.
They were also the difference. The Raiders trailed the Oaks by 12 points before Gutches came through at 174 pounds and Abrams at 184, and Menlo forfeits at 197 and 285 made the final 30-18 at Bob Riehm Arena.
Gutches, the top-ranked NAIA wrestler in his class, put a couple of near-falls on Paul Bracamonte in the first round and finished him off with a late takedown. Abrams, ranked No. 2 in the West Region, took care of Erick Parsons in 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Before those wins, Menlo had claimed four straight bouts. Steele Escobedo and Jason Ladd won by fall and the Oaks got decisions out of Sam Duchene and Eric Lopez — though the top-ranked Lopez was nearly upset by SOU's Brock Crocker in the 165-pound match, escaping with a 6-5 decision thanks to a riding-time point.
Jacob Stigall (125 pounds) and Coleman Johnson (133) gave the Raiders an early advantage off the bat. Stigall had four takedowns in his 11-6 decision against Edgar Paez, and Johns' third-round near-fall gave him an 11-3 major decision against Juan Zorrilla.
Ethan Hinton (197) and Taylor Johnson (285) were the benefactors of SOU's forfeit victories.
The Raiders will host the SOU Open next weekend. Saturday is Alumni Day, starting at 3 p.m., and the SOU Open Championships will get going at 9 a.m. on Sunday.