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Four Raiders come home All-Americans from NAIA Championships

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Southern Oregon University men’s cross country team claimed second place at the NAIA Championships on Saturday for the third straight season, and the Raider women were 18th after a three-year absence.

That there was some mild disappointment at Rim Rock Farm was telling of how far both programs have come in recent seasons.

Max Runia finished eighth, Eric Ghelfi was ninth and Jared Hixon was 16th to give the second-ranked Raider men three All-Americans, while Summer Cano placed 25th to become the first SOU women’s All-American since Seena Frantz in 2009.

The Oklahoma City men and British Columbia women both defended their team titles.

OKC put all five of its scorers in the top 19, totaling 64 points to SOU’s 121. Olivet Nazarene (125) was right behind the Raider men, and Eastern Oregon (199) took fourth.

Runia’s time of 25:10.9 was just under 14 seconds behind winner Benard Keter of Wayland Baptist. Ghelfi was in next at 25:15.8, improving on his All-American placing of 20th last season. Hixon, who was 36th in 2013, moved up 20 spots with a time of 25:24.5.

Kevin Jorgensen, SOU’s fourth scorer, placed 35th in 25:39.5 to mark another big improvement after he was 78th last year, and Cary Dunagan was the fifth and final scorer in 66th (26:04.5).

Cano was a freshman when the SOU women last came as a team and led the Raiders then in 37th place. She was 81st in 2013, but her time of 18:28.8 on Saturday helped her clear the top-30 by a comfortable margin. Lupescu completed the course in 18:57.9.

The next three scorers were a little more compact. Jessie Rozario made it in 19:42.1 (141st), Jessa Perkinson in 19:56.0 (178th) and Karen Silvas in 19:58.8 (186th). All three were at the NAIA Championships for the first time.

“I’m happy for the seniors that ran well,” SOU coach Grier Gatlin said. “It was good to have both teams here.”

SOU’s men haven’t been out of the top four since before 2008. They won their only title in 2010.

Lewis-Clark State was second in the women’s team race and Northwest Christian was third.

British Columbia won easily, and its senior, Maria Brenard, was the individual champion by a margin of over 30 seconds with her time of 17:03.8.

Men’s Basketball

SOU 86, CAL MERCED 57: At Klamath Falls, fifty-eight percent shooting in the second half allowed 17th-ranked Southern Oregon to shrug off a slow start against a hapless California Merced squad at Oregon Tech’s Midland Empire Classic.

Eric Thompson again led SOU (6-1) with 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting, Jordan West and Brennan Rakoz went home with 11 points and six rebounds each, and Tim Weber grabbed 13 rebounds while dishing out five assists.

SOU plays Tuesday at Simpson and next weekend at Menlo’s tournament, where the Raiders will face California Maritime and Menlo.

Women’s Basketball

SOU 93, WILLIAM JESSUP 48: At Klamath Falls, Courtney West went for career-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds off the bench and Southern Oregon dominated William Jessup from start to finish on the final day of Oregon Tech’s Midland Empire Classic.

West went 9-for-11 from the field in spearheading 37-for-74 shooting as a team. The Raiders, who also put Kristen Schoenherr (14 points), Alexi Smith (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Bree Park (17 points) in double figures, are 7-0 for the third time in four seasons.

Park was a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range. She had previously made five triples once, on Jan. 4 of last season, and needed eight attempts to do it.

The Raiders are off until a Dec. 2 exhibition game at San Jose State.

Wrestling

NOR CAL OPEN: At Redding, Calif., four wrestlers representing second-ranked Southern Oregon University won titles Saturday at the Nor Cal Collegiate Open.

Tyler Cowger won at 149 pounds, Brock Gutches at 174, Jacob Abrams at 184 and Taylor Johnson at 197. SOU also won the team title with 196 points, beating out Great Falls (164.5) and San Francisco University (133).

Placing second for the Raiders were Devin Poppen at 133 pounds and Clayton Burtis at heavyweight. Dalton Urrutia and Travis Patrick settled on a tie for third place at 157, and freshmen Casey Coulter (125) and Max Hane (184) were both fourth.