Photo Courtesy: SAU Athletics
TYLER, Tex. (SAU) - The Southern Arkansas University Mulerider and Lady Mulerider cross country teams officially opened their season on Friday Sept. 7 at the University of Texas-Tyler Invitational in Tyler, Texas. Despite the meet taking place in the evening, and what the race director described as a "brutal course", the Lady Muleriders won the women's race, while the Muleriders took second as a team in the men's race.
At 6:30 p.m., the gun went off for the women's 5k (3.1 mile) race. After many steep hills, patches of loose sand, and a gradual uphill in the last mile, junior Carli Langley (who currently holds the SAU women's cross country 5k record) finished the race in 19:28, snagging the individual title. Following shortly behind and finishing 3rd overall was sophomore Virginia Ney, with a time of 19:55. Coming in third for the Lady Muleriders and fourth overall was freshmen Maddie Brown, with a time of 20:02. Junior Ashley Price finished fourth for the Lady Muleriders and 7th overall, with a time of 20:54. Rounding out the scorers was freshman Alayna Nevins, who finished 8th overall, with a time of 20:55.
Acting as displacers for the Lady Muleriders were freshman Hannah Raney (9th overall, 21:03) and sophomore LaKresha James (11th overall, 21:22). Non-scoring team members included junior Michelle Beavers (21:36), junior Cheyenne Meyer (23:15), and sophomore Leah Jamison (24:32).
Finishing with 23 points, six women in the top ten, and an average time of 20:15.54, victory was inevitable for the Lady Muleriders. UT Tyler came in second place as a team with 49 points. The Lady Muleriders also claimed victory over Great American Conference (GAC) rival Southeastern Oklahoma State University, UT Tyler Alumni, Northwood University, Centenary College, East Texas Baptist University, LeTourneau University, Wiley College and Jarvis Christian College.
"I am very proud of the women's performance in this race," head coach Tim Servis said. "I knew they would do exceptionally well. I told them 'Let's go to the race, get the trophy, and head back to Magnolia.' They are very consistent in their racing and placement, and I appreciate that. I hope they will continue to maintain this consistency for the rest of the season."
When the women cleared the course, the men's 5k began. Coming in 1st for the Muleriders and 2nd overall was freshman Brad Beckham, with a time of 16:18.14. Right behind Beckham was junior Evan Adams, placing 3rd overall with a time of 16:18.52. Third for the Muleriders and 7th overall was freshman Chris Wallace, with a time of 16:30. Fourth for the Muleriders and 10th overall was freshman Troy Richardson, with a time of 16:41. Rounding out the scorers for the Muleriders was freshman Brent Beckham, finishing 11th overall with a time of 16:43.
Acting as displacers for the Muleriders were sophomore Garrett Wright (13th overall, 17:00) and freshman Jose Guevara (17th overall, 17:08). Non-scoring team members included junior Daniel Pevril (17:15), junior Kirby Shepherd (17:15), sophomore Daniel Moreno (17:32), freshman Adrian Lopez (18:10), and freshman Loghin Livingston (18:19).
The men lost first place to UT Tyler by a mere 3 points, finishing with a team score of 33 points and an average team time of 16:30.34. SAU did manage to outrun Wiley College (3rd place, 103 points), East Texas Baptist University, LeTourneau University, UT Dallas, UTT Alumni, Jarvis Christian College and Centenary College.
"The men didn't race as well today as I would have liked," Servis said. "They have to work on their consistency before we race again. They are a very talented group, but if we want to win Conference, the men are really going to have to step it up."
The Muleriders and Lady Muleriders compete again on Sat, Sept. 14 at the GAC Preview at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Ark. The women's 5k race will begin at 9 a.m. and the men's 8k (5 mile) race will follow immediately after.