Cross country prospers at regionals

Sophomore Mikhayla Sabo runs in the Shannon Henretty Invitational. Sabo earned her first career USTFCCCA All-Region honors. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Sophomore Mikhayla Sabo runs in the Shannon Henretty Invitational. Sabo earned her first career USTFCCCA All-Region honors. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The Stevenson University men’s and women’s cross country teams started a strong post-season run at the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championships hosted by Hood College on Nov. 2.

The men placed second overall, sweeping three of the top four finishes. Senior Patrick Watson earned the program’s first individual conference championship with an 8k time of 24:51.34, winning the race by over 22 seconds. Watson was named the USTFCCCA Mideast Region Cross Country Athlete of the Year as well as an All-Region performer.  Senior Nikita Kulick also earned All-Region honors at last Saturday’s NCAA Mideast Regional.

Senior Iddriss Iddriss runs the 8k at the Shannon Henretty Invitational, where he placed third overall. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Kulick placed third overall with a personal-best time of 25:31.28, earning all-MAC first team honors, as well as All-Region honors at the NCAA Mideast Regional. In addition, senior Iddriss Iddriss finished fourth at the MAC championships with a personal best time of 25:42.2, also earning him first team honors.

The women finished third overall, setting a new program record for highest finish in a conference championship.

Junior Emily Gates finished a program-best second overall with a 6k time of 21:42.9. Sophomore Mikhayla Sabo finished 10th with a time of 22:44.9. Both Gates and Sabo earned all-MAC first team honors, while senior Kelly Winklbauer and freshman Peyton Arbour earned all-conference second team honors.

According to Sabo, both the men’s and women’s teams had to prepare not only physically for the regional tournament, but mentally as well. “Running is 50 percent mind and 50 percent athletic actions,” said Sabo.

Senior Patrick Watson finishes first place in the Shannon Henretty Invitational 8k run. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Head coach David Berdan encourages his runners to try meditating and breathing exercises as a way to mentally prepare for big races. According to Sabo, the meditation practices accompanied by harder workouts, healthier eating and an increase in sleep all helped her prepare for the regional championships.

Gates and Sabo each earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors based on their finishes at the NCAA Mideast Regional at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., on Nov. 16 .

At the regional event, the women’s team placed ninth overall out of 49 schools, which is the program’s best finish at the regional level. Gates placed third overall with a 6k time of 21:32.7, while Sabo placed 23 out of 349 runners with a time of 22:31.1.

For the men, Watson took first place with an 8k time of 24:24.4, making him the first runner in program history to win an individual regional championship. In addition, Kulick placed 29th overall with a time of 25:38.1, while Iddriss finished 50th overall with a time of 26:09.8. The Mustangs finished 12th out of 51 schools in the overall team standings.

Both Gates and Watson will compete in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 23.