NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- The Covenant cross country teams capped a tremendous season with record-setting efforts at the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional meets on Saturday at Lee Hall Mansion in Newport News, Va.
Both teams set program records with their 12th place finishes overall. For the women, it is the second straight year that the team has set a record for highest team finish. Additionally, 13 runners between the two teams set personal bests on the day.
"Both team made history today, and are the best I've coached at Covenant," head coach Katie Stanford said. "We wanted top 12 on the men's side, but were hoping for just 15th on the women's side. The women just couldn't be out done by the guys."
All seven runners set personal records on the men's side. Leading the charge was freshman Caleb Aikens with his 45th place finish and 8k time of 25:56.6. That time was just eight seconds off the 35-year old Covenant program record, set by David Taylor in 1982. Aikens is also just the second runner in the program's illustrious history to break the 26-minute mark in an 8k.
"Caleb ran amazing and just was just so close to the school record," added Stanford.
Matthew Tueller came in 54th at 26:05.7, also setting a personal best and his time is now the third-fastest in program history. Matt Seitz was 76th at 26:29.0 and Micah Sneller 113th at 26:52.3, both times career bests for the runners. Micaiah Allison rounded out the top five runners for Covenant with his time of 27:11.3. Jonathan George (27:29.1) and Leif Le Mahieu (27:57.4) also set personal bests.
It marked the first time since 2008 that a Covenant runner had broken 26:30 in the 8k and is the first time in program history that three runners accomplished the feat in the same race.
The women beat out every other USA South member in the race, including conference champion Berea, as Lilly Smith finished 47th overall. Smith was the lone Covenant runner to not set a personal record on the day, but still captured an outstanding 6k time of 23:06.1.
"Lilly went for it today and was trying to qualify for nationals and just ran out of gas at the end," Stanford noted. "I'm proud of her for going for it and she was still able to lead the ladies to their best-ever finish at NCAA regionals."
Michelann Settle capped her first year of collegiate cross country with another personal best as she finished in 23:13.9 for 53rd overall. Margaret Fitch was the third Covenant finisher in 24:13.5, a career-best for the senior in her final race, and placed 98th. Hannah Samuels was 106th with a personal record time of 24:25.2 and Heather Hall completed the top five runners with her mark of 24:39.1.
Christopher Newport won the men's race and Rhodes placed second as both teams qualify for the NCAA National Championship meet next week. On the women's side, it was Trinity (Texas) and Emory garnering the top two spots.
Men's Results (12th of 32; 220 total runners)
45th - Caleb Aikens - 25:56.6 - PR
54th - Matthew Tueller - 26:05.7 - PR
76th - Matt Seitz - 26:29.0 - PR
113th - Micah Sneller - 26:52.3 - PR
128th - Micaiah Allison - 27:11.3 - PR
147th - Jonathan George - 27:29.1 - PR
164th - Leif Le Mahieu - 27:57.4 - PR
Women's Results (12th of 34; 240 total runners)
47th - Lilly Smith - 23:06.1
53rd - Michelann Settle - 23:13.9 - PR
98th - Margaret Fitch - 24:13.5 - PR
106th - Hannah Samuels - 24:25.2 - PR
114th - Heather Hall - 24:39.1 - PR
175th - Anna Danek - 26:06.1 - PR
176th - Caroline Pepper - 26:06.2 - PR
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