SOU women 9th, men 12th at nationals
VANCOUVER, Wash. — For the first time in team history, the Southern Oregon University women’s cross country team has posted back-to-back top-10 finishes at the NAIA Championships after settling into ninth place of 37 teams Friday at the NAIA Championships.
On a 5,000-meter course at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, the Raiders ran true to their No. 9 ranking as four of their five scorers finished within 35 seconds of each other. Sophomore Sydnee Kizziar, who placed 140th in her first national appearance last year, climbed all the way to 37th of 341 total runners by finishing in 18 minutes 46.2 seconds.
Junior Ariana Toland placed 50th in 18:58.6 — it was her third straight top-50 performance — and junior Shayla Potratz was 71st in 19:10.2, her best placing effort in three trips by a margin of 38 spots.
Freshman Kira Morrow (19:21.2) and junior Emma Amundsen (19:43.1) were SOU’s fourth and fifth scorers in 86th and 141st place. Lauren Fillipow (19:47.1) wasn’t far behind Amundsen in 149th place and Madison Willhoft (20:51.6) rounded out the Raiders effort in 20:51.6.
The Raiders were following up on last year’s fourth-place team finish, the best in program history, but had to replace three of their top-four scorers from that team.
Madonna (Mich.) captured the team title with three scorers in the top-16 and all five among the first 47. College of Idaho was second, missing out on the title by 35 points, followed by SCAD Atlanta and St. Francis (Ill.).
Oregon Tech and Eastern Oregon, the Cascade Conference’s other qualifying teams, were 15th and 29th in the standings.
Huntington’s Hannah Stoffel won the individual championship by a margin of 16-plus seconds in 17:18.4.
NAIA CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Vancouver, Washington, Southern Oregon University senior Brandon Kelsey became a two-time All-American on Friday morning by placing 18th of 335 runners and helping the Raiders to 12th in the men’s team standings.
Kelsey, a product of Arcata, Calif., making his third appearance at the national meet, ran the 8,000-meter race in 25 minutes 17.5 seconds at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. He improved every season in the race, making a six-spot jump over last year’s showing.
The spread, though, was too wide for the Raiders to crack the top-10 among 37 total teams. Their next scorer was Alex Harbert-Castro in 71st place at 26:08.7, and 90th-place Gabe Loader (26:20.3) was the only other Raider in the top 100.
Deklan Humble (26:35.7) placed 123rd and Kevin VanDyke (26:29.2) was 131st to complete SOU’s scoring. Shea Van Butler (26:54.4) and Zeke Stelzer (26:59.8) were 172nd and 180th.
Harbert-Castro, Humble, Stelzer and Van Butler were making their first national appearances.
Kelsey’s experience showed. Halfway through the race, he was in 53rd place.
Top-ranked Oklahoma City won the team title with three top-13 placers. The Stars were followed in the standings by Taylor (Ind.), Lewis-Clark (Idaho) and Embry-Riddle (Ariz.).
OCU also produced the Individual champion, Mark Shaw, who finished in 24:39.5.