Written by Chris Pendleton
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—The Southern Virginia University women's cross country team won the United States Collegiate Athletic Association's national championship on Friday outpacing the eleven other small colleges that competed on the snowy 6K course in Lake Placid, New York.
Freshman Tori Faulkner led the way for the Knights placing second overall with a time of 25:23.17. Faulkner, a first-year runner from Mesa, Arizona, has been outstanding for Southern Virginia this fall coming in as the Knights' top finisher in each of her seven races this season, while twice winning the USCAA's Runner of the Week award.
After Faulkner, Southern Virginia's next four finishers entered the chute within 33 seconds of each other as freshman Leah Huber (Castle Rock, Colo.), sophomore Kera Macfarlane (Yorktown, Va.), freshman Tayla Alfrey (Auburn, Wash.) and freshman Shelbi Prince (Mexico, Mo.) placed seventh (26:14.85), eighth (26:34.72), ninth (26:43.18) and tenth (26:47.75) respectively.
Senior Bridget Gonzalez (Riverside, Calif.), who was a two-time USCAA cross country All-American before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil from 2009-2011, finished 17th overall with a time of 27:30.87.
Freshman Kelli Nahoolewa (Saginaw, Texas), whose twin sister Nicole also ran for the Knights this fall, closed out the scoring for Southern Virginia placing 30th with a time of 28:23.70.
Southern Virginia's women's cross country team, which features 14 Latter-day Saint scholar-athletes from ten different states, had a team total of 32 points on Friday—18 points ahead of the meet's second place school, SUNY-ESF.
Following Friday's national championship meet, Faulkner and Huber were named USCAA All-Americans.
Gonzales and Cassie Cooper (Kelso, Wash.) earned national academic honors for the Knights.
"We ran a strong race today," said first-year Head Coach Logan Davis, who was a two-time USCAA academic All-American as member of the Southern Virginia men's cross country team before graduating from the university in 2009 with a degree in liberal arts. "With so many young, promising runners I think we have a chance to continue our program's tradition of excellence for many years to come."
Since its first year as a program in 1998, Southern Virginia women's cross country has captured 10 USCAA national championships—more than any other sport on campus—including nine titles in its first ten seasons (1998-2007). Friday's win marks the Knights' first national championship since 2007.
Southern Virginia men's cross country also competed in Friday's national championship meet placing sixth out of 16 teams.