Adelyn Ackley was the class of the ASUN Conference as a freshman in 2019. (Photo by Brad Young)
Note: The Liberty women's cross country team enjoyed a successful second season of ASUN Conference competition in 2019, placing second at the conference meet. The ASUN Conference office recently penned this season recap article. With the 35th year of ASUN Conference Women's Cross Country in the books, we take a look back a the highlights and accomplishments from the nine league squads from the 2019 season. The Lipscomb Bisons, who were selected No. 1 in the preseason coaches poll, captured its record-setting eighth conference title at the 2019 ASUN Women's Cross Country Championship. Liberty's Adelyn Ackley earned both Runner and Freshman of the Year honors as the Flames were runner-ups at this year's event hosted by FGCU at Buckingham Complex in Fort Myers, Fla., for the second time in program history.
Lipscomb took home its second-consecutive championship with an eight-point victory over Liberty as Bisons head coach Nick Polk earned Coach of the Year honors. Ackley, who was named Runner and Freshman of the Week four times during the regular season, won the championship 5K with a time of 17:08.65. This ranks fifth in league history in the fastest winning times and is the top time by a freshman in the conference championship. Ackley's finish ranks second in league history for smallest individual victory as she finished two seconds before her teammate Calli Parlier (17:10.72)
The Flames opened their season with back-to-back victories at the Liberty Challenge and the FGCU Invitational. Ackley was the individual winner and led the team to 1-2-3-4 finishes in both meets. North Alabama started 2019 off with a third-place finish at the JSU Strut's Season Opener beating out several Division I opponents. UNA's Lillian Humphries earned Freshman of the Week honors after the John McNichols Invitational while NJIT's Laila Hill-Glover was awarded the award after competing in the Highlander XC Challenge. North Florida and FGCU both competed in Gainesville at the Mountain Dew Invitational with the Ospreys finishing third and Eagles 16th in the field of 35 teams. Jacksonville's Hayleigh Palotti had great performances throughout the year, including an individual win at the Embry-Riddle Classic, that led to her being tabbed Runner of the Week three times. Lipscomb's Brooke Kingma claimed the top weekly runner accolade after a top-10 finish at the Greater Louisville Classic.
At this year's championship, the Bisons and Flames both had five All-Conference selections. Lipscomb was represented by Kingma, Grace Lahey, Hannah Owens, Lauren Flynt and Grace Oetting while Liberty had Ackley, Parlier, Emma Bower, Priscillah Kiplagat and Brittany Carnathan earning spots. Palotti earned honors for the Dolphins while Kennesaw State's Sarah Hendrick and UNA's Phoebe Moon rounded out the All-Conference teams. The Highlanders set records for the best score (186) and finish (7th) for the program at the championship as well as the best individual time and finish from Cassandra Raia (18:53.79, 27th). UNA had its best showing in the ASUN Championship ending in fifth-place overall with Moon earning the program's top individual finish at ninth. Stetson's record for the fastest individual time in a championship was set by Meggie Schneider (18:28.37).
Four teams competed in this year's NCAA Regional Championships: NJIT (Mid-Atlantic), Lipscomb & North Florida (South), Liberty (Southeast). At the South Regional, a group of four Owls competed while Palotti and Melanie Pacheco were the only individuals to participate for Jacksonville and Stetson, respectively. The Flames equaled their best performance at regionals with a 13th-place finish while Parlier's time of 20:57.5 at the Southeast Regional ranks 12th in league history for best individual times. Kelly Dicristina (23:31.1, 177th) recorded the fastest individual time and finish in Highlanders' program history at the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Lipscomb and Liberty finished the season ranked 10th in the South Region and 13th in the Southeast Region, respectively, in the final USTFCCCA Regional Polls. North Florida ended ranked 21st in the South Region while NJIT comes in at 31st for the Mid-Atlantic Region.
FGCU - The team's top 5K time of the regular season came from Emily O'Connor who finished the Greater Louisville Classic at 19:32.3. - Hosted the 2019 ASUN Championship for the second time in program history at the Buckingham Complex in Fort Myers. - Jillian Felton led the Eagles in this year's championship with a time of 19:01.76 and a finish in 30th place. Jacksonville - Sophomore Hayleigh Palotti had an outstanding season in 2019 and earned ASUN Runner of the Week honors three times. - Palotti earned several top individual finishes for Jacksonville this season including placing first at the Embry-Riddle Classic. - At the 2019 Championship, Palotti finished fifth with a time of 17:31.90 to earn the second All-Conference selection of her career. Kennesaw State - The Owls' top 5K performance of the regular season came from Katie Meyer at the Greater Louisville Classic with a time of 17:48.6. - Sarah Hendrick finished eighth in the ASUN Championship to earn her first selection to the All-Conference team; KSU finished third. - Hendrick, Meyer, Hope Thornton and Ella Weaver represented KSU in this season's NCAA South Regional Championship in Tallahassee, Fla. Liberty - Adelyn Ackley won Runner and Freshman of the Week at the 2019 Championship; she earned Runner and Freshman of Week honors four times during the season. - The Flames opened their season with back-to-back wins and 1-2-3-4 finishes at the Liberty Challenge in Lynchburg and the FGCU Invitational in Fort Myers. - Liberty finished second in the ASUN Championship for the second-straight year; five Flames earned All-Conference selections. Lipscomb - Lipscomb won its record-setting eighth ASUN Championship, and second in a row, as the Bisons claimed the 2019 title by eight points. - Four Bisons were named to the All-Conference First Team: Brooke Kingma, Grace Lahey, Hannah Owens, Lauren Flynt. - This marks the third appearance for Kingma and Flynt while Lahey and Owens have made the team twice; Flynt also earned Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. NJIT - NJIT's Laila Hill-Glover earned the program's first ASUN Freshman of the Week honor after her performance at the Highlander XC Challenge. - At the 2019 Championship, the Highlanders finished in seventh place which is their best finish as a team in the league's title race. - Kelly Dicristina (23:31.1, 177th) recorded the fastest individual time and finish in Highlanders' program history at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. North Alabama - North Alabama hosted its first home meet since 2007 with the UNA Invitational on Sept. 7. The Lions finished third in a field of 12 teams. - Lillian Humphries was tabbed Freshman of the Week after her performance in the John McNichols Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. - Phoebe Moon finished ninth to earn Second Team All-Conference honors and lead the Lions to the program's best finish in the ASUN Championship. North Florida - The Ospreys began with a dual meet against Florida in Jacksonville followed up by a third-place at the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville. - Grace Gumpel recorded the team's best 5K run during the regular season and also paced UNF at the 2019 Championship finishing 16th. - Camry Cooney was the top finisher for the Ospreys as the team finished 21st in the NCAA South Regional Championship 10K. Stetson - Meggie Schneider had the team's best 5K performance during the regular season with a ninth-place finish at the Queen City Invite. - At the 2019 ASUN Championship, Schneider set the Stetson's program record for the fastest individual time finishing at 18:28.37. - Melanie Pacheco (23:21.8, 162nd) was the only runner to represent the Hatters in the NCAA South Regional race.
ABOUT THE ASUN The ASUN Conference is an NCAA Division I league with nine member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The ASUN meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement through a true balance between student and athlete. Six ASUN schools reside in Nielsen Top 50 national media markets, and all nine are in top 80 markets. The ASUN includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Liberty University, Lipscomb University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of North Alabama, University of North Florida and Stetson University. Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., joins the ASUN for the 2020-21 academic year.