MOBILE, Ala. – Freshman runner Kirami Yego became the 11th male runner from the South Alabama cross country team to win individual honors Friday morning as he crossed the line with a time of 23:5.3 in the 8k race at the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships held at Brookley by the Bay. Kemboi finished 10 seconds faster than the next closest runner.
Adele Magaud tied for fourth with UT Arlington’s Madeleine Rowe with a time of 17:38.0 to capture first-team honors in the women’s 5k, while Onesmus Kemboi placed sixth in the men’s 8k with a time of 24:53.9 to pick up second-team accolades.
Arkansas State’s men’s and women’s teams took home the team titles in their respective races, while the Red Wolves’ Pauline Meyer set a new championship record with a5k time of 16:51.5, which was 25 seconds faster than the closest runner.
Meet: 2021 Sun Belt Conference Cross Country Championships
Host: South Alabama
Place: Brookley by the Bay (Mobile, Ala.)
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS
WOMEN’S – 5K
1. Pauline Meyer, Arkansas State (16:51.5); 2. Izzy Evely, Appalachian State (17:16.7); 3. Sophie Leathers, Arkansas State (17:38.1); T-4. Madeleine Rowe, UT Arlington (17:39.0); T-4. Adele Magaud, South Alabama (17:39.0); 6. Molly Jones, Coastal Carolina (17:46.1); 7. Charlotte Murphy, UT Arlington (17:49.6); 8. Elizabeth Martin, Arkansas State (17:51.7); 9. Marine Garnier, Georgia State (17:53.6); 10. Benadine Chelimo, ULM (17:55.9)
MEN’S – 8K
1. Kirami Yego, South Alabama (23:51.3); 2. Lexington Hilton, Arkansas State (24:01.0); 3. Kwanele Mthembu, Texas State (24:25.2); 4. Bennett Pascoe, Arkansas State (24:50.8); 5. Seth Waters, Arkansas State (24:52.2); 6. Onesmus Kemboi, South Alabama (24:53.9); 7. Oliver Wilson-Cook, Appalachian State (24:54.1); 8. Coleman Wilson, Arkansas State (24:56.9); 9. Justin Botello, Texas State (24:59.0); 10. Ryan Brown, Appalachian State (25:03.0)
WOMEN’S – 5K
1. Arkansas State (45); 2. Appalachian State (73); 3. UT Arlington (77); 4. ULM (121); 5. Coastal Carolina (136); 6. South Alabama (162); 7. Troy (179); 8. Georgia State (197); 9. Texas State (233); 10. Little Rock (237); 11. Louisiana (288); 12. Georgia Southern (297)
MEN’S – 8K
1. Arkansas State (32); 2. Appalachian State (58); 3. South Alabama (69); 4. Texas State (101); 5. UT Arlington (134); 6. Little Rock (142); 7. Coastal Carolina (218); 8. Troy (234); 9. Louisiana (248); 10. ULM (254)
SOUTH ALABAMA INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
WOMEN’S – 5K
T-4. Adele Magaud (17:39.0); 31. Andonet Cheruiyot (19:05.3); 38. Emma Tonsberg (19:20.0); 43. Abey Weitenbek (19:29.3); 45. Clervie Chagot (19:35.8); 61. Shay Lee (20:35.4); DNF. Macy Livingston (–)
MEN’S – 8K
1. Kirami Yego (23:51.3); 6. Onesmus Kemboi (24:53.9); 16. Tegan Flanagan (25:21.7); 19. Nate Pudner (25:50.2); 27. Charlie Slaughter (26:14.2); 37. Lance Cunigan (26:45.8); 46. Jared Peaslee (27:33.2)
– The win marked the third of Yego’s young career and the sixth time he has finished inside the top 10 in his nine career races.
– The individual championship for Yego marked the 11th time in program history that a male runner has won the conference meet title and the first since Christoph Graf at the 2014 meet.
– Along with Graph, Yego joins former South Alabama league champions Zac Edwards (2009), Micah Tirop (2008, ’07), Vincent Rono (2006, ’05), Tonny Okello (2004), David Kimani (1999), Terry Weir (1993) and Bobby Abruscato (1981).
– With the title, Yego was also named the SBC’s Male Runner of the Year and earned first-team all-league honors for the second straight season.
– Kemboi was also a repeat all-conference performer with his sixth-place finish earning second team honors for the third straight meet.
– Kemboi has now finished inside the top 10 in 15 of his 25 career cross country races.
– After narrowly missing out on all-league honors last fall, Magaud earned first-team honors for the first time in her career as she tied for fourth.
– The top 5 finish for Magaud marked the fourth of her career and her fifth top 10 finish.
– The South women have now had at least one runner earn first-team honors each of the last seven seasons and nine of the last 10 dating back to the 2012 meet when first-team honors were first recognized.
– The USA women have had a runner finish inside the top 15 at the meet each season dating back to 2008.
– Both Emma Tonsberg and Clervie Chagot set new personal best at the meet. Tonsberg ran 28 seconds faster in the distance than her previous best, while Chagot trimmed two seconds off her mark.
THEY SAID IT
Head coach Parker Cowles
– On the women’s team performance:
“Conditions were pretty rough today. It was windy and the course was pretty choppy, but everyone runs the same race. In terms of team performance, it’s not quite what we wanted today, but I am proud of this team. It’s a very young ladies’ team we have. We had a lot of seniors last year, so we have a lot of brand-new athletes racing at this level for the first time. I think for a number of our girls especially Abbey [Weitenbeck], Clervie [Chagot], and Emma [Tonsberg] this was probably the best race they had all year. Adele [Magaud] was much improved from last year and I think she raced tremendously. We have to just find a way to be a little more competitive in the conference and move that pack time up. It was a solid effort today, I think we wanted more, I think we know we are capable of more but for a young team who is really learning I’m happy with how it turned out.”
– On the future for the women:
“I think a big part of this season has been establishing a culture. We lost three all-conference runners last year so it’s very much a completely different team, a lot of freshmen, so Adele has had to step into a leadership role and that’s new for her. A lot of these ladies are learning how to do this at the college level, so we are trying to establish that culture and compete at that Division I level. I think we are doing a good job but it’s a steep learning curve.”
– On the men’s team performance:
“I thought the men’s team ran well today, but there were some things we could have done better. Obviously, we were hopeful we could go for the win, but we got beat by two very good teams. We had some great races from individuals and we had some athletes who ran about what I thought they would. I think, like in most championships, some guys got a little bit lost in the field but as a whole we executed and did what we were supposed to.”
– On Kirami Yego’s performance:
“He [Yego] has been terrific all season. He had to go up against a very talented runner in Lexington Hilton. I think he just showed he was ready to handle it, ready to put the pressure on him. He raced at a very high level today. He’s obviously got a lot of racing left this year and we hope he will be going in a month at a high level. I’m excited about where he’s at and what he can do.”
Sophomore Adele Magaud
-On today’s race:
“I was very excited at first. I knew I was going to be top 15. I have never been all-conference so just being top 15 was good. I knew the first girl was fast so I wouldn’t be able to catch her, but from two to 10, I could pretty much be anywhere. So, I went for number two, but then she was way too fast. I really believed I could be third, but then the last 80 meters I just lost a couple places because I’m not good at kicking. I could have been third if I had fought a little harder so I’m upset about that.”
Freshman Kirami Yego
– On today’s race:
“When we got to this race I had a plan to win it. We have had three 8k races and I had good times, sub 24 (minutes), and today I was planning to run under 24.”
– On being a leader:
“I am happy to be a leader for this strong team. We won last year and we were planning to win this year, but we didn’t do as well. But we are focusing on that as we get ready for next season.”
– South Alabama is scheduled to continue postseason competition in two weeks when the Jags compete at the NCAA South Regional Championships held at the John Hunt Cross Country Running Park in Huntsville, Ala., and hosted by North Alabama, the Huntsville Sports Commission and the City of Huntsville on Friday, Nov. 12. The women’s 6k is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. and will be followed by the men’s 10k at 9:30 a.m.
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