AVE MARIA, Fla. — The first three runners across the finish line at The Sun Conference Cross Country championship were wearing Fire uniforms.
Southeastern won its first conference title Saturday, placing its top five runners within the top 13, and seven in the top 19 to best St. Thomas by 16 points.
Freshman Kelsi Ogilvie won the individual title, navigating the 5,000 meter course in a time of 18:45. Nine seconds later, junior Julia Kaster finished second, and senior Sydni Ogilvie was third in a time of 19:02.
“Kelsi, Julia, and Sydni went out together and confident. It was so fun to watch them drop the other runners and race so well,” said coach Paul Kurtz.
Another freshman, Reanna Pabon checked in with a time of 19:52 to garner second-team all-conference honors, along with classmate Kristen Robinson (13th, 20:16), and senior Megan Fitzgerald (14th, 20:17).
“It was great to see some of the ladies step up and help those who were struggling from the illness,” said Kurtz. “None of them ever gave up.”
For his efforts, Kurtz was selected as the conference Coach of the Year. Last season, Kurtz was the men’s Coach of the Year.
“I could not be happier for our women,” said Kurtz. “It’s been a rough couple weeks with illness, but they stayed focused and confident in their training.”
With the conference title, the Fire qualify for the NAIA National Championship as a team for the first time in program history.
“This team has progressed over five years to what you see today,” said Kurtz. “A lot of girls before should be proud to have been a part of what happened today.”
The championship will be held November 18 at Fort Vancouver Park in Washington.