PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – For the 27th straight week dating back to November 2012, the Shawnee State women’s cross country program is ranked in the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, national officials announced on Wednesday evening.
The female harriers, who won the program’s sixth straight Mid-South Conference Championship since joining the conference in 2010, hold the 12th spot in the rankings with a total of 323 points.
During the Mid-South Conference Championship, the Bears would put on a dominating display as Shawnee State would place eight runners over the top 14 positions in the meet to record a meet-low 18 points – three off of a perfect score and 63 markers ahead of second-place Lindsey Wilson – en route to another conference title.
With her third time of less than 18 minutes for the year, Sarah Biehl would take home the overall meet victory as the senior became the only conference runner in school history to win two conference runner of the year awards in running a 17:56.5 to head the Bears’ efforts.
Additionally, the Sport Management major’s aforementioned mark makes the senior the only runner in school history to record three top-five and four top-10 marks for a career. Biehl also becomes just the third runner in program history to obtain at least three meet victories, with Lisa Davies (six) and Erica Scheuffele (four) being the only pair of runners to earn more meet wins than the senior.
Behind Biehl, Shawnee State runners would grab four of the next five spots en route to putting a school-record number of individuals on the Mid-South’s First-Team.
Anna Havranek would lead the quartet as the sophomore joined Biehl as the only runners to put up times of under 19 minutes with her 18:35.1 to finish in the runner-up spot. Katie Saling, Megan Ashton, and Megan Day would also join Havranek and Biehl on the All-MSC First-Team as the trio finished fourth through sixth with their times of 19:07.2, 19:13.7, and 19:14.7, respectively.
In addition to the efforts of the first five finishers for the Bears, Alyssa Taylor, Kate Spencer, and Brooke Smith would place on the All-MSC Second-Team as the trio put up times of 19:48.8, 20:06.7, and 20:14.9 to give Shawnee State eight all-conference honorees.
Following Saturday’s meet, Shawnee State cross country head coach Eric Putnam was given the Mid-South Conference’s Coach of the Year award on the women’s side. The aforementioned honor is the 10th of Putnam’s career.
In addition to the banner year that the women have had, Putnam has put a dozen individuals on the Mid-South’s All-Academic list between the guys and the girls, with the guys putting a program-record seven individuals on the squad. Between the guys and girls squads, four athletes would accumulate GPA’s of 3.9 or above, including two (Havranek and Haley Lykins) with perfect 4.0 marks.
As far as the overall version of the NAIA Top 25 Poll was concerned, there was little change at the top as Northwest Christian (Ore.) continues to pace the field in the rankings, garnering all 18 first-place votes and 498 points overall. Biola (Calif.) is second with 480 voting points while Aquinas (Mich.) sits in third with 468 tallies.
The No. 12-ranked Bears will look to best its 12th place finish– the program’s best-to-date – set just last season at the 2014 NAIA National Championship in the 60th annual version of the meet. Highlights of the national championship, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, N.C., will be provided via Stretch Internet.