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SOU men defend conference title

SPRINGFIELD — The top-ranked Southern Oregon men's cross country team won the program's second straight Cascade Conference championship Saturday.

The Raiders, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA Top 25 for the past two weeks, cruised to the team title, outscoring College of Idaho, 39-62. Eastern Oregon finished third with 86 points and Concordia was fourth with 87 points.

On the women's side, the SOU women finished third in the team race. College of Idaho won the team title with 36 points, followed by Concordia (94), Southern Oregon (95) and Eastern Oregon (96).

For the SOU men, junior David Laney continued to blow away the competition. Laney won the individual race with a time of 24 minutes, 44 seconds, which was 16 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Laney was named the Cascade Conference's Athlete of the Year.

"He's just really incredible," said SOU head coach Brent Ericksen, who won the Cascade Conference Men's Coach of the Year honor for the second straight year.

"Nobody was really close to him. He's amazing to watch and it's getting hard to explain what he does. He just gets better and better every week and I'm excited about the possibilities at Nationals with the fact he can be a low point scorer for us."

Dennis McCaffrey finished fifth in 25:05, while Zach Elliott finished sixth in 25:07 and Ryan Sorenson finished 12th in 25:14. Laney, McCaffrey, Elliott and Sorenson were all named all-conference performers.

Ryan Ghelfi finished 15th in 25:16, as all five of SOU's point scorers finished in the top 15. Hector Aleman (21st, 25:29) and Andrew Milne (23rd, 25:41) wrapped up the SOU effort.

With the victory, the SOU men will go as a team to the NAIA National Championships, Nov. 21 in Vancouver, Wash.

On the women's side, freshman Seena Frantz of Ashland punched her ticket for the NAIA National Championships. Frantz finished fourth overall with a time of 18:26 to earn the individual at-large berth to the nationals.

"As a freshman going to nationals, this is going to be a great experience for her," Ericksen said.

Anya Martinez finished 17th in 19:08 and was followed by Tara Krempley (18th, 19:10), Kristen Juveland (24th, 19:22), Silver Seibert (32nd, 19:52), Laurie Stoutenburgh (33rd, 19:54) and Kelly Clark (40th, 20:28.).

"We improved from ninth to third and we were one point away from being second and beating the 20th-ranked team in the nation, so I couldn't be happier," Ericksen said. "And we have everyone coming back, I'm really excited about the future."