MEMPHIS, TN - On Saturday, the NC Wesleyan College Men's and Women's cross country teams traveled to Memphis to compete in the NCAA South Regional Championships.
Both teams have trained and competed at a high level throughout the season and have prepared themselves for this very competitive race against some of the nation's best cross country teams.
The men raced first in the 8K and set the pace for the day, with junior third team all-conference Andrew Bowen leading the Bishops with a time of 27:20 (97th place) followed by junior all-conference Christian Tippette who ran 27:27 (103rd place). Sophomore Connor Hayes was close behind with a 27:54 (131st place), while freshman Philly Barungi ran a 28:38 (159th place).
The team scoring was completed with sophomore Terenthen Parker who ran a 28:47 (167th place). Wesleyan had 2 more runners in sophomores Maleik Small (29:02 and 177th place) and Keyonte Williams ( 29:48 and 195th place) that completed the team competition that consisted of 230 runners. The Bishops finished in 25th place out of 36 talented teams, and is an improvement from last season where the team finished 28th out of 33 teams.
"The men went out there and ran hard and strong throughout the race," commented Head Coach Marshall Leonard. "They fought for positions and challenged others as they raced to the finish of the race and their season. This year they have accomplished a lot and have beaten some talented D1, D2, and D3 teams as they lay down the foundation of a successful program that will be here for years to come."
"The women raced after the men and had to run on a course that was already muddy, but then worn out from 230 men racing on it 1 hour prior," said Leonard.
During the race there were multiple athletes that had fallen and were slipping in the mud during the 6K run. But the tough conditions could not slow down freshman Cedara Franklin who set a new school record in the 6K meter race with a time of 25:32 (131st place). She was followed by her freshman teammate Teanna Bellamy who ran a 27:39 (193rd place), freshman Sinai Ashe-Lee who was close behind with a 30:10 (222nd place), and the team was wrapped up with freshman Toni Foster who chipped in with a 30:20 (225th place), but did not have a 5th runner in order to earn a team placement.
The women's season was full of amazing accomplishments and new records. They also brought home 2 trophies throughout the season.
"The women's program is showing growth and improvement, and the young ladies on the team are very excited about their role in creating a winning culture. We are blessed to have the student athletes that we have on campus, and I am very proud of them." said Leonard.
"As I look back on this season, I am extremely happy with how they have progressed as individuals and as a team," exclaimed Leonard. "We constantly improved each week and started to understand how to incorporate past experiences into our future races. Both teams have a bright future and I am excited to be a part of the Bishop running program."