GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For a second consecutive year, the Covenant men's cross country team captured the USA South championship. Backed by a first place finish from Graham Massot and four other finishers inside the top 10, the Scots repeated as conference champions.
On the women's side, Covenant fell just short of a conference title as they placed second, just three points behind Meredith. Beth Burgess, the reigning individual champion, finished second.
"I am extremely proud of all the Scots today," said head coach Katie Stanford. "Everyone ran their hardest and you could see that as they came through the finish. They definitely left it all out on the course."
The conference title for the men is their ninth in program history. It is also the first time since the 1994 and 1995 seasons that the Scots have claimed conference crowns in back-to-back years. Covenant won four straight titles in the TVAC from 1992 to 1995.
Massot became the first Covenant runner at the Division III level to win an individual title. The sophomore set a personal record in the 8k with a time of 27:03 to beat out Maryville's Sean Hagstrom.
USA South Runner and Rookie of the Year Eliot Kaufmann finished third with a time of 27:44. Freshman John Weaks placed fifth with a personal best of 28:05, while senior Stephen Dillon was sixth at 28:15. Senior Jack Williams came on strong to place 10th overall with a time of 29:21, a personal record.
Massot, Kaufmann, Weaks and Dillon all earned first team USA South All-Conference with their finishes. It is the second consecutive year that Dillon has earned first team honors. Williams' 10th place finish put him on the second team for a second straight year.
"Graham and Eliot both wanted the win today and it just happened to be Graham's day," added Stanford. "It speaks to the strength of a team when the top finisher goes back and forth throughout the season. John gained ground on those two and had his best race of the season. Stephen and Jack had a great conference finale with Jack setting another personal best."
Phil Moore (30:45) was 16th and Eliot Gardner (31:22) finished 18th for the men. Covenant's 25 points as a team bested Piedmont's 41 points. Maryville (74), Methodist (105), Averett (131) and LaGrange (135) rounded out the field.
In the women's 6k event, Burgess led for part of the race before falling to second behind Maryville's Emily Guillaume. Burgess finished the course in a time of 24:28.
"Beth ran her heart out today and went for it as she took a big lead in the beginning," remarked Stanford. "She just didn't have anything left when Emily (Guillaume) pulled ahead in the last mile."
Three other Covenant runners placed in the top 10 led by freshman Jordan Francis and her personal record time of 25:47, which was good for a seventh place finish. Junior Ruthie Cargill was ninth at 25:56, while Abby Irwin was 10th with a time of 25:59.
Sophomore Grace Bodron placed 14th with a time of 26:29, while Julia Price (27:22) and Alicia Zanoni (27:31) finished 21st and 22nd, respectively. Price's time was set a new personal best. Sarah Jo Griffith also set a personal record by finishing in a time of 29:15.
Covenant finished with 42 points, just three away from Meredith's 39. Meredith has won consecutive conference titles. Maryville (103) and Mary Baldwin (114) rounded out the top four teams in the event.
"The women were so close today," continued Stanford. "Losing by three in cross country can be a bit of a heartbreaker but honestly we have gained so much ground on Meredith in the past year it is an amazing finish for our ladies. We have had our ups and downs this season with losing two and having some injuries so what the girls accomplished today was amazing."
The women earned several All-Conference honors. Burgess and Francis achieved first team USA South All-Conference honors, while Cargill, Irwin and Bodron took second team awards based on their finishes.
The teams will now have two weeks off before competing in the NCAA South Regional Championship on Nov. 15 in Rome, Ga., hosted by Berry College. The men will race at 9:30 a.m., while the women go at 11 a.m.
Men's Results - 25 points
1st - Graham Massot - 27:03
3rd - Eliot Kaufmann - 27:44
5th - John Weaks - 28:05
6th - Stephen Dillon - 28:15
10th - Jack Williams - 29:21
16th - Phil Moore - 30:45
18th - Eliot Gardner - 31:22
23rd - Charles Taylor - 32:00
32nd - Zach Atchison - 33:47
40th - Caleb McKillop - 35:56
Women's Results - 42 points
2nd - Beth Burgess - 24:28
7th - Jordan Francis - 25:47
9th - Ruthie Cargill - 25:56
10th - Abby Irwin - 25:59
14th - Grace Bodron - 26:29
21st - Julia Price - 27:22
22nd - Alicia Zanoni - 27:31
25th - Margaret Fitch - 27:49
39th - Sarah Jo Griffith - 29:15
47th - Esther Anderson - 30:21