The women started off the day, led by two freshmen in Michelle McLeod, who ran 20:05 for a 9th-place finish overall, and Sarah White, who ran 20:24 for a 12th-place finish and personal best. Next for the Lady Lions was sophomore Jessica Stockton, who clocked a time of 20:25, for a 13th-place finish. Andrea Spencer ran a season best 20:52, good for 17th overall. With her 9th-place finish, McLeod is the lone female who punched a ticket to compete in the 2012 NAIA Cross Country National Championship, held in Vancouver, Wash.
Coach Harper was pleased with the way the Lady Lions competed. He said, "I was very impressed with all our young women today. Both of the freshmen really stepped it up, and Sarah was unfortunately the first individual finisher who did not qualify for Nationals. She has lots of time to improve during her next years at Bryan. Stockton has not been feeling well, and I was glad that she still competed at such a high level. Spencer really picked up her game today as well, and I am excited to see what she will do on the track this spring. I am looking forward to Michelle racing once more this season in Washington."
The Men's team raced next as the defending champions, with 4 wins in the past 5 years. They put on a dominating performance, with 7 runners in the top 9, and 11 runners in the top 25. They had a low team score of 20, winning the team championship in stellar fashion and gaining an automatic bid to compete in the 2012 NAIA National Championship. The Lions were led by junior Anthony Simpson, who won the race with a time of 25:32. This is the first time that a Bryan athlete has won the individual title, and was chosen as the AAC Runner of the Year. Close behind him was sophomore Connor Hatfield, who was 2nd by just three seconds. Of these top performances, Coach Harper said, "I was pleased with the way these front-runners did their jobs. It is never easy leading a race, and they remained relaxed throughout its entirety."
Next for the Lions was Alex Stephens, finishing 4th overall with a time of 26:23. A slew of freshmen finished next for the Lions, with Parker Sorenson finishing 6th overall (26:27), Tim Sigmon finishing 7th (26:36), and Joel Johnston finishing 8th (26:45). Rounding out the scorers was Madison Yates in 9th, who set a personal best of 26:50.
Also competing for the Lions was Christian Pineda in 18th with a personal best 27:37, Matt Jenkins in 20th with a personal best 27:46, Anders Clarke in 23rd (27:57), Ben Kirk in 25th (28:08), Jacob Shelton in 31st (28:56), and Caleb Cobb who was 43rd in 29:58.
"Our teams did very well today," said Coach Harper. "I was very pleased with each and every one of the athletes. It was great to see our men continue the tradition that we have going, and they have now won the team title 5 of the last 6 years. Even the men who did not score for us ran very well, with most of them setting personal bests. The hard work that these men and women have been putting in since June is just starting to pay off. I am looking forward to the men surprising some teams at the National Championship, improving on their current ranking of 14th in the nation."
For the men, Anthony Simpson, Connor Hatfield, Alex Stephens, Parker Sorenson, Tim Sigmon, Joel Johnston, and Madison Yates were named to the AAC All-Conference team. Parker Sorenson, Tim Sigmon, Joel Johnston, Matt Jenkins, and Ben Kirk were named to the AAC All-Freshmen Team.
Coach Harper was named AAC Men's Coach of the Year.The Lions' top 7 will represent Bryan at the 2012 NAIA Cross Country National Championship on Saturday, November 17, at 11:45 PST at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash.