Fontbonne Looks For A Strong Showing At The SLIAC Championship

Fontbonne Looks For A Strong Showing At The SLIAC Championship

Story written by SLIAC Director of Athletic Communications Brian Lovellette

At A Glance
Greenville University will look to defend their dual St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships this upcoming weekend. The men's team won its 13th title in program history last season thanks to a deep roster that returns three top ten finishers from last year's championship. The women's team will be looking to add to their conference high 16 titles with their top six finishers returning from last year's championship team. The 2017 SLIAC Cross Country Championships will take place on Saturday, October 28 at the Litchfield Country Club located in Litchfield, Ill. The men's race will begin at 10 a.m. while the women's race is set for a 10:45 a.m. start time. 

Men's 8K Course - MAP
Women's 6K Course - MAP

Men's Race Preview

One year after becoming the first team to take the top three individual spots at the championship, Principia will be looking to achieve the feat once again. They return Zach Matthiesen, 1st, and Nate Richards, 2nd, and have added Shane Witters Hicks, who is back after one year away, and already has two top ten SLIAC Championship finishes in his career. Greenville junior Andrew Sharp will be looking to push his way to the top and comes in with a personal best time of 25:22 set earlier this fall. Webster's Riley Flynn will be looking to get back into the top ten finishers this weekend after finishing a career-best 8th overall two years ago.

Women's Race Preview

Greenville is looking to become the first repeat SLIAC Women's Champion since they won six consecutive titles from 2004-09. The Panthers won the title by over 20 points last year thanks to four runners finishing in the top eight. Brooke Goodyear and Lia Kruse, who finished 2nd and 3rd last year, will look to challenge the favorite Westminster's, Jessie Kuykendall. Kuykendall has been a force the last two years, winning four SLIAC Player of the Week awards. This year she has four top-three finishes at meets and will look to get near her personal best time of 22:30 which she set last year at the Midwest Regionals. Webster's Meghan Illig took 5th place at last year's championship while teammate Holly Goergen took 7th place with both runners finishing below the 25-minute mark.

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Blackburn College 'BEAVERS'

Tim Lacy, a senior from Jerseyville, Ill., returns as the Beavers top male runner. He finished first in all every race for the Beavers this fall, compiling a top time of 29:13. The women's team has welcomed in Katherine Smith, a freshman from DuQuion, Ill. Smith has immediately become one of the team's top runners with a top time of 28:49 this season. 

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Fontbonne University 'GRIFFINS'

The Griffins men's team is led by Jacob Dixon, a freshman from Sullivan, Mo. Dixon is coming off a personal best time in his last race, finishing in 30:48. His teammate Hayden Yates also put together a personal best time two weeks ago. On the women's side, the Griffins' Katie Gosser has had a solid season, capturing one SLIAC Player of the Week award this fall. Gosser and her teammates have been close in their times this season although Gosser is coming off a team-best 29th place finish at the University of Evansville Invite.

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Greenville University 'PANTHERS'

The men's team has had three top-three finishes this fall including a first-place finish in their last meet at Bradley. Andrew Sharp also took first place individually in the meet, finishing with a time of 26:13, his second fastest time of the season. The women's program has two top-three finishes this year with Lia Kruse leading the way in all four races. 

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MacMurray College 'HIGHLANDERS'

MacMurray is making their return to the SLIAC Cross Country Championships after a 15-year program absence. Head Coach Jeremy DeGroot will send out two male runners; Tim Frazier and Zachary Vespa. Vespa is coming off a 9th place finish at the Illinois College Invite. Diamond Norwood, a freshman from Carbondale, Ill., has led the women's team and is coming off a 7th place finish two weeks ago.

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Principia College 'PANTHERS'

The Panthers men's team returns the top two finishers from last year's race in Zach Matthiesen and Nate Richards while also bringing back Shane Witters Hicks, who sat out last season. Witters Hicks is coming off a 23rd place finish at the Cowbell Classic, a tune-up of the 2017 NCAA Division III Championship course. Allegra Pierce was the highest finisher for the Panthers in the Cowbell, finishing with a time of 26:20.

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Spalding University 'GOLDEN EAGLES'

Will Brittain and Parker Bettag will lead the men's team this weekend. Brittain is coming off a 24th place finish at the Evansville meet, finishing with a time of 28:18 while Bettag finished in a time of 28:25. On the women's side 2016 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year Kelsey Phillips will pace the team. Phillips took 16th in her last race, finishing in a time of 21:01 and will be looking to improve upon her 10th place finish at the championships last year.

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Webster University 'GORLOKS'

Senior Riley Flynn has the best time by a Gorlok this fall, finishing 26:39. Flynn was also the team's top finisher last year at the championships, taking 12th place. The women are led by Meghan Illig, with a season-best time of 25:06. Illig has also won two SLIAC Player of the Week awards this fall and will be looking for another top-five finish at this year's championships.

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Westminster College 'BLUE JAYS'

Freshmen Brian Sellenriek, Joseph Labitska, and Akeen Modica-Robinson join sophomore Jack Pervinich to form a men's roster that is one of the youngest in the league. The women's side is carried by Jessie Kuykendall, the defending SLIAC Women's Champion. Kuykendall has continued her dominance this season, garnering three SLIAC Players of the Week. She is coming off the Cowbell Classic where she finished in a time of 23:33.