LAKELAND, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s and women’s cross country teams concluded their 2009 championship season at the Sunshine State Conference Championships, Saturday morning from the Sanlan RV Park. The men’s squad closed their 8K race in the sixth-place with a total of 177 points, while the women grabbed fifth-place with a team score of 128 in their 6K race.
For the men, Michael Berry, Matt Attal, and Eric Dirth continued to seize the top three positions, and for the third time this year, Berry earned the top time on the Lions’ team. With a time of 29:33.93, Berry finished 42nd overall, more than a second ahead of the nearest competitor. Next, Attal closed the race in Berry’s footsteps, finishing 46th at a time of 29:41.87, just eight second behind his teammate. Following Attal was the freshman sensation. Dirth just missed breaking the 30-minute mark, culminating with a time of 30:01.44, the seventh-best performance in team history. The top three Lions’ ended the race within 34 seconds on one another.
Carson Holton finalized his portion of the race with a time 32:55.21, while Robert Tester and Jeremy Doty rounded out the Lions’ six-runner team with times of 36:34.21 and 38:26.07, respectively.
Still, the Florida Southern College men notched their 13th consecutive SSC title with a point total of 26; 24 points ahead of second-place finisher Nova Southeastern. Individually, FSC also posted the top three finishers in the event with Ben Martucci staking to the individual crown. Following Nova Southeastern was Florida Tech in third-place, Tampa in fourth, and Rollins in the fifth spot.
For the women, Kelsey Bradley earned her fourth, first-place finish of the year, executing the race with a time of 24:12.87. Her 18th-place overall finish was four places ahead of freshman runner Jillian Browne. Browne ran a phenomenal race, finishing 10 seconds behind Bradley at a time of 24:22.12.
Alison Luthman finished 30th out of the 53-person field. The junior ended the morning run with a time of 25:31.66 and her teammate, Emily Egan, finished 35th with a time of 26:04.28.
Freshman Mariah Moss also ran a solid race, concluding the championships with a time of 26:54.02. Allison Cary and freshman Tanja Redmond closed competition for the Lions with times of 27.48.94 and 27.59.95.
The University of Tampa continued its dominance on the women’s side grasping the overall team title for the third consecutive year with 21 points. Florida Tech’s Sara Trane was the individual champion as she became the first non University of Tampa of Florida Southern runner to win the individual trophy since 1996.
Both squads will now prepare for the NCAA South Regional on November 7th. The shotgun start is scheduled for 8 a.m. from Tampa, Fla. South region festivities will be hosted by the University of Tampa.