PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – For the 22nd consecutive week, the Shawnee State women’s cross country program finds itself in the newest NAIA Top 25 Poll released on Wednesday evening.
Over the past weekend, many of the female runners were given the weekend off by Bears’ head coach Eric Putnam in an attempt to allow a couple of other Shawnee State harriers to shine over the coming weekend.
With their top-15 finishes in last Saturday’s Mid-South Conference Preview Meet, it was no doubt as to whether or not freshmen Darian Steele and Shaniah Begley made their fellow teammates proud or not during the event – also known as the Gatorland Run.
Steele, the Ashland, Ky. native, would lead the charge as the first-year runner would give the Bears a top-10 finisher in each of the first three events to start the 2015 campaign with her ninth place finish at the Mid-South Conference Preview via a time of 21:26.9.
Begley, however, wasn’t far behind. In her first meet as a Shawnee State Bear, the McDermott, Ohio native finished in 12th place of the 37 finishers with her time of 21:55.5 in recording her first overall time as a collegiate athlete.
As with last week, this week’s version of the NAIA Top 25 Poll also featured little movement at the top of the poll, as the top four teams kept the same position that they had held during the previous. British Columbia, who is ranked at the No. 1 slot, paces the rankings for the third week in a row.
Shawnee State, who was the only Mid-South Conference team to be ranked or receive votes in the last NAIA poll, remains the only MSC team to be ranked so far this season. The Bears will be looking to capture their sixth straight Mid-South Conference championship since joining the MSC in 2010, and are the only conference team to be ranked or receive votes in the NAIA Top 25.
Shawnee State will have its biggest weekend to date in the 2015 season as the Bears will participate in the 61st Annual All-Ohio Championships on Friday, Oct. 2 and will turn right around to race in the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday, Oct. 3.