BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – With three Top-25 teams and a fourth that was receiving votes in the latest NAIA Coaches Poll, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships was bound to be an exciting one. In the end, it was No. 17 Olivet Nazarene University who captured the title and stamped their tickets to the NAIA National Championships later this month.
Sarah Ray (JR/Warsaw, Ind.) and Elizabeth Soper (JR/Grand Rapids, Mich.) paced the Tiger attack, finishing back-to-back in third and fourth place, respectively. Ray, who was questionable for competition most of the week leading up to the eevent, completed the 5k race in 18:45.23. Soper was a mere six seconds behind, posting a final time of 18:51.17.
Saint Xavier University's Elie Willging captured the overall title, setting a new course record of 18:03.84. Second place went to Trinity Christian College's Ashley Jourdan who crossed the finish line in 18:37.48.
Alexa Beezhold (SO/Saint John, Ind.) ran a strong race for Olivet, finishing seventh overall with a 19:10.65 finish. The Tiger's top five was rounded out by Alyssa Faulks (SR/Caldwell, Idaho) and Karley Brown (JR/Lees Summit, Mo.). Faulks finished in 19:22.18, good enough for a 10th place finish. Brown crossed the finish line in 19:53.89 in 24th place.
Earning the conference's second automatic bid to natioanls, in second place was No. 14 St. Francis. Saint Xavier, currently ranked No. 24, finished third. Trinity Christian and St. Ambrose University (Iowa) rounded out the top five.
Ray, Soper, Beezhold and Faulks all earned CCAC All-Conference recognition for finishing in the top 15 of the 135 runner event. Head Coach Mike McDowell was also selected as CCAC Coach of the Year.
Olivet will now begin to prepare for the 36th Annual NAIA Women's Cross Country National Championship. The event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, North Carolina.