GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. - Despite harsh weather conditions, the 20th-ranked Toledo women's cross country team ran to its third-straight Mid-American Conference championship in historic fashion Saturday afternoon at Beaver Island State Park. The Rockets dominated their conference foes with a record-breaking score of 24 points, eclipsing their mark of 33 points set in last year's championship race.
Eight of the nine Toledo runners earned All-MAC honors while Head Coach Kevin Hadsell was named the MAC Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career (third straight). The Rockets now have five conference championships in program history.
"Today went really well," Hadsell said. "I'm really proud of how we were able to handle the conditions. Our wholegame plan coming in here was to validate our ranking and to get as many All-MAC runners as possible. This should really set us up nice for the NCAA Regionals in a couple of weeks."
Senior Kaylin Belair and sophomores Megan Wright and Liz Weiler led the Rockets with a two-three-four finish across the line. Belair ran at 5:41 mile pace and finished 20 seconds behind Ohio's Julie Accurso at 21:08.7. Wright and Weiler recorded times of 21:20.5 and 21:24.9, respectively.
Sophomores Brooke Tullis (21:55.8) and Priscilla Timmons (21:56.5) finished back-to-back in seventh and eighth place, while juniors Devyn Ramsay, Liz Lemon and freshman Sharon Morgan rounded out the top-14 finishers.
Two-time MAC Runner of the Week Mackenzie Chojnacky battled through the tough weather conditions and an illness to finish 57th with a mark of 23:00.8.
Toledo becomes the first school to win three consecutive MAC titles since Ohio won five straight crowns from 1987 to 1992.
According to Hadsell, this is just the beginning for the Rockets as they will amp up their training to prepare for the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 11. Toledo will gun for their third straight NCAA Championship bid at the regional meet.
In the men's race, Toledo tallied 186 points to finish in eighth place as a group. They faced a more challenging run with the course already worn down from the opening women's race. Senior Elliot Livensparger led the Rockets for the first time this season. He placed 23rd overall with a final mark of 25:33.2.
Sophomore Jake Kasperski finished in 31st-place at 25:47.7, while sophomores Hilary Serem (37th; 26:03.1), Adam Smercina (47th; 26:20.3) and freshmen Thomas Gibbons (48th; 26:21.6) completed the Toledo scoring.
Eastern Michigan senior Terefe Ejigu, last year's runner-up, claimed top honors with a time of 24:44.5, holding off EMU teammate Daryl Smith who finished in 24:47.8. The men's race consisted of 78 entrants. EMU won the men's team title with 59 points.
The men will compete in their season finale at the Eastern Michigan Open on Nov. 2.