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MacDonald Leads Liberty to 10th Place at SE Regional
Liberty redshirt junior Josh MacDonald finished 15th in the men's 10K at Friday afternoon's NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships at Panorama Farms, earning all-region honors and helping Liberty place 10th as a team. On the women's side, the Lady Flames came in 23rd overall, paced by junior Jacy Christiansen's 57th-place finish.
The Liberty men's squad totaled 273 points for its eighth top-10 finish in the last nine years at this meet. The Flames were one place and nine points behind Big South rival High Point, which placed an impressive ninth in the 35-team field with 264 points.
No. 17 Eastern Kentucky won the men's team title with 58 points, while host Virginia took the second and final automatic qualifying spot to the NCAA national meet with 96 points. That put the Cavaliers just five points ahead of NC State's total of 101.
In the women's 6K, Liberty finished one position behind Coastal Carolina for the second straight meet. The Big South champion Chanticleers totaled 624 points for 22nd place out of 38 teams, while the Lady Flames' score of 677 earned 23rd place.
The women's automatic team qualifiers to the national meet in Terre Haute, Ind., were No. 11 Virginia, which won top honors with 57 points, and No. 19 William & Mary, the runner-up with 69 tallies.
Men's 10K Race Recap
MacDonald covered the rolling 10K terrain in 29:33.6 for 15th place, becoming the 10th different Liberty men's runner ever to garner an all-region medal at this meet. The California native, who moved up from 28th to 15th after the 5K mark, was the Big South Conference's top finisher on the day. MacDonald edged out High Point's Jeff LaCoste (16th place) and Patrick Crawford (20th place) for that honor.
With MacDonald's all-region performance, he is eligible to qualify to the 2013 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships individually. However, he is unlikely to be included in the field, which will be officially announced on Saturday.
Jeremie Bourget wrapped up his impressive sophomore campaign with another strong race on Friday. He was the 31st and final runner in the 239-member men's field to crack the 30:00 barrier, posting a time of 29:59.7.
Fellow sophomore Sam Hibbs ran well in his first collegiate 10K competition, serving as Liberty's No. 3 runner for the second straight meet. He came in 71st with a time of 30:55.5.
After starting out conservatively, Caleb Edmonds and Ngetich Kipchirchir were two of the biggest movers during the second half of Friday's race. Edmonds passed 38 runners after the 5K mark, finishing 78th in 31:00.4. Meanwhile, Kipchirchir's 82nd-place finish was 36 spots better than his ranking at the halfway split. The redshirt sophomore's time was 31:04.7.
Redshirt junior Jarred Cornfield was 135th in his regional meet debut, crossing the finish line in 32:03.0. Senior Zach Barker wrapped up his collegiate cross country career with a 151st-place finish and a 10K time of 32:22.2.
Up front, UNCG senior Paul Chelimo edged ACC champion Andrew Colley of NC State for the men's individual title, 28:37.3 to 28:38.7.
Women's 6K Race Recap
Christiansen crossed the finish line 57th out of 265 women's runners on a sunny afternoon, marking a large improvement over her 118th-place showing in 2012. Her 6K time of 21:52.5 set a new personal best as she was the second Big South finisher on the day.
Freshman Jessie Proehl again served as the Lady Flames' No. 2 runner on Friday, placing 101st in 22:32.9. She came in just 11 seconds behind Big South champion Letitia Saayman of Coastal Carolina.
Team captain Katie Russo wrapped up her senior season with a 162nd-place finish, covering the 6K distance in 23:15.5. She passed 24 runners during the second half of her final collegiate cross country race.
Redshirt freshman Chelsea Page (182nd place, 23:30.1) and redshirt senior Lyndi Fielitz (186th place, personal-best 23:34.7) finished in rapid succession to close out Liberty's five scorers.
Liberty continued to alternate freshmen and seniors with its final two women's finishers, as freshman Kat Bouton was 212th in 24:02.5 and senior Jessica Gass came in 229th in 24:34.7.
William & Mary's Emily Stites took the women's regional title in 19:57.5, followed by Kentucky's Cally Macumber in 20:07.9.