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Season-in-Review: Cross Country

Season-in-Review: Cross Country

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LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- It was another stellar season for seventh-year Covenant cross country coach Katie Stanford’s squad in the fall. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed second overall at the USA South Championships and set program records in the NCAA Regional with 12th place finishes by both sides.

It was a season filled with record-breaking performances, as both personal and program records fell throughout the year. 

Lilly Smith led the pack on the women’s side with a phenomenal and record-breaking season. The USA South Runner of the Year set the 6k program record for the Scots at the USA South Championships on Oct. 28th with a time of 22:55. She also placed second on the team or higher in each of Covenant’s seven meets this season, and her runner-up finish at the USA South meet garnered her first team All-USA South honors.

On the men's side, Caleb Aikens was strong for the Scots in his first season with the team. The USA South Rookie Runner of the Year also collected All-USA South honorable mention and paced the team in nearly all meets during the year. He recorded the second fastest time in program history at the NCAA Regional with a time of 25:56.6, just eight seconds off a 35-year old program record. Aikens also earned USA South Runner of the Week (Sept. 4, 2017) and USA South Rookie Runner of the Week (Sept. 4, 2017, Oct. 9, 2017) honors over the course of the season.

Both teams had runner-up finishes at the USA South Championships, while Stanford collected Coach of the Year on the women's side and each team placed five on All-USA South teams.

The season was capped by historic efforts at the NCAA South/Southeast Region meet in Newport News, Va. Both teams set program records for highest finish in the event, both finished 12th, and 13 total runners set personal records. With Aikens' time, along with junior Matthew Tueller and freshman Matt Seitz, three men's runners broke 26:30 in the same race for the first time in program history. On the women's side, Smith ran the second-fastest time in program history.

During the season, each team had five top-five finishes at events. Both teams placed first overall at the Maryville Invitational on Sept. 30, with Smith and Aikens taking the runner-up spots in their respective races. Overall, the women placed three runners in the top 10 and produced six personal records, while the men had six runners finish in the top 10 and had three personal bests on the day.


Sophomore Michelann Settle, competing for the first time in cross country, had a solid season for the Scots. She was named to the All-USA South first team after placing fourth in the meet with a time of 23:41.5. She set a 6k personal best at the NCAA Regional meet with a time of 23:13.9, and placed second or higher on the team in all seven meets.

Senior Margaret Fitch ended her cross country career with outstanding efforts in the final two meets of the year. Her time of 25:13.4 in the USA South meet placed her 23rd overall and gave her a spot on the All-USA South third team. In the NCAA region meet, Fitch set a personal record at 24:13.5. 

Junior Hannah Samuels and freshman Heather Hall were also top-five finishers on a consistent basis for the women. Both runners ended strong with personal bests at the NCAA region meet.

On the men’s side, junior Matthew Tueller was a key contributor. The All-USA South first team runner placed seventh overall in the USA South Championships with a time of 27:22, and he notched his personal best at the NCAA Regional with a time of 26:05.7. He was one of the top three Covenant runners in each meet this season.

Junior Micah Sneller consistent all season and earned honorable mention All-USA South honors after his 20th place finish at the conference meet. He then set his personal record of 26:52.3 at the NCAA region meet.

Several freshmen pushed their way into the top five during the year, led by Aikens. Seitz was a force towards the end of the year as he set personal bests in each of the final four races of the year culminating in a time of 26:29.0 at the NCAA region meet, the sixth-best time in program history. Jonathan George followed a similar pattern as he set personal records in two of the final three events and finished in 27:29.1 at the regional meet. Leif Le Mahieu and Micaiah Allison also had strong finishes to their rookie campaigns.

Tueller and Smith were named Covenant’s representatives on the USA South All-Sportsmanship teams.


USA South Runner of the Year
Lilly Smith

USA South Rookie Runner of the Year
Caleb Aikens

USA South Coach of the Year (women)
Katie Stanford

All-USA South (Men)
Matthew Tueller - first team
Matt Seitz - second team
Caleb Aikens - honorable mention
Micah Sneller - honorable mention
Jonathan George - honorable mention

All-USA South (Women)
Lilly Smith - first team
Michelann Settle - first team
Heather Hall - third team
Margaret Fitch - third team
Hannah Samuels - honorable mention 

USA South All-Sportsmanship (Men)
Matthew Tueller

USA South All-Sportsmanship (Women)
Lilly Smith

USA South Runner of the Week (Women)
Lilly Smith (Sept. 4, 2017; Oct. 2, 2017; Oct. 9, 2017)

USA South Runner of the Week (Men)
Caleb Aikens (Sept. 4, 2017)

USA South Rookie Runner of the Week (Men)
Caleb Aikens (Sept. 4, 2017; Oct. 9, 2017)


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