SOU men runners claim seventh straight crown
PORTLAND — There were no big surprises at the men’s cross country Cascade Conference Championships on Saturday, which was all it took for Southern Oregon University to win its seventh straight title on Fernhill Park’s 8,000-meter course.
The second-ranked Raiders prevailed by doing what they’ve done all season — running as a pack until the very end. Their top-seven runners were separated by 15 seconds. Only the first five finishers count toward the team score.
Former Crater standout Max Runia led SOU, placing third with a time of 24:55. He was followed in fourth by Kevin Jorgensen, fifth by Jared Hixon, eighth by Cary Dunagan and ninth by Eric Ghelfi. Ray Schireman, of North Medford, was 12th for the Raiders, earning all-conference honors.
Hixon was all-conference three straight years, and Dunagan and Ghelfi have done it twice.
SOU scored 29 points to outdo ninth-ranked Eastern Oregon’s 57. Concordia (112) was third and No. 16 College of Idaho fourth.
The Raiders will head back to Lawrence, Kan., with an automatic bid to the NAIA championships on Nov. 22.
Eastern Oregon’s DJ Flores won the individual title in 24:18. Concordia’s Matthew Clowes was next in 24:37.
TEAM SCORES: Southern Oregon 29, Eastern Oregon 57, Concordia 112, College of Idaho 115, Oregon Tech 124, Northwest Christian 128, Corban 174, Warner Pacific 235, Northwest 240
SOU RESULTS: 3, Max Runia, 24:55; 4, Kevin Jorgensen, 25:00; 5, Jared Hixon, 25:00; 8, Cary Dunagan, 25:08; 9, Eric Ghelfi, 25:09.
Women’s Cross Country
SOU SECOND: At Portland, Southern Oregon placed second at the Cascade Conference Championships Saturday, a performance that will likely land the Raiders at nationals in a couple weeks.
The Raiders were 23rd in the NAIA rankings, fourth best among CCC squads, entering the 5,000-meter race at Fernhill Park. Led by all-CCC performances from third-place Summer Cano and 12th-place Rebecca Lupescu, the Raiders surpassed No. 14 College of Idaho and No. 20 Oregon Tech in their best team finish since 2010.
Northwest Christian had four of its five scorers in the top 10 to win its first conference title with 36 points. SOU was next with 74.
NCU’s Alyssa Harmon won the individual crown with a time of 17:44, beating runner-up Lila Klopfenstein of College of Idaho by nine seconds. Cano, who has led the Raiders at all five of their races this season, placed third in 17:58.
TEAM SCORES: Northwest Christian 36, Southern Oregon 74, Oregon Tech 80, College of Idaho 90, Concordia 145, Northwest 154, Corban 157, Eastern Oregon 173, Warner Pacific 290.
SOU RESULTS: 3, Summer Cano, 17:58; 12, Rebecca Lupescu, 18:34; 18, Karen Silvas, 18:55; 19, Jessa Perkinson, 18:57; 22, Jessie Rozario, 19:12.
SOU TIES FOR TITLE: At Ashland, 13th-ranked Southern Oregon downed Warner Pacific 25-21, 25-7, 22-25, 25-17 at Riehm Arena to become co-champions of the Cascade Conference for the first time since 2010.
It was the fourth time the Raiders (22-4 overall, 16-2 Cascade Conference) won a title since Josh Rohlfing took over as head coach in 2007. They share it with Eastern Oregon, which won a tiebreaker for the right to host the conference tournament’s semifinals and finals next Friday and Saturday.
EOU and SOU will have byes in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round. Sixth-seeded Oregon Tech plays at third-seeded Concordia, fifth-seeded Northwest plays at fourth-seeded College of Idaho, and the Raiders will take on the top seed remaining of those winners in the semis.
As for Saturday, Motade Atanda clinched the CCC kills crown with 24 on 45 swings to finish with a 4.3-per-set average. Brookelynn Cole collected 20 digs to become the eighth Raider to ever surpass 1,000 for a career (she’s at 1,010), and the Raiders limited Warner Pacific (5-18, 3-15) to an .082 attacking average — making the Knights SOU’s 17th opponent in 18 conference matches to hit under .200 and the fifth to hit under .100.
The Raiders finished on top of the league in opponents’ hitting average at .129. Last year they were sixth at .186.
SOU also ranks second in the NAIA in blocks, picking up nine more of those against the Knights led by Abbie Hanser’s six assisted.
Kelsea MacPhee had her second big outing in a row as a consistent part of the rotation with 11 kills and no errors on 17 swings, giving her 21 kills in two matches.
SOU 88, METRO STATE 82: At Denver, Ashley Claussen scored 26 points and came through in the clutch to lead Southern Oregon to its second exhibition win against an NCAA Division II opponent in as many nights.
Claussen went 12-for-12 from the line, and her free throws with 5:09 remaining put the 21st-ranked Raiders ahead for good, 70-68. She extended the lead on SOU’s next possession with a layup, and on the possession after that she drilled a 3-pointer.
Kristen Schoenherr scored 24 points and grabbed six boards for the Raiders. Alexi Smith went for 15 points and seven rebounds, and Autumn Durand had eight points and nine boards.