Oct. 29, 2012
MOSELLE, Miss. -- David Caldwell crossed the line in 12th place and Celia Leonard in 24th as the pair led its respective Marshall men's and women's cross country teams to fifth and eighth place finishes at the 2012 Conference USA Championships.
Hosted by Southern Miss at the Pine Belt National Golf Course, the hilly race took place in 30 degree temperatures that added an additional challenge to an already difficult trail. Yet neither the weather nor the challenging terrain could keep the Thundering Herd teams from finding success, as Caldwell claimed second team All-Conference USA honors for his individual abilities, and the women's team rumbled to its best ever finish at the C-USA event.
Amidst a field of 62 runners, senior David Caldwell ran a team-best 8k time of 24:56.40 to finish 12th and lead the men's team to its second consecutive top-five finish at the C-USA Championships. Senior Ryan Bowser was next for the Herd, finishing the race in 24th with a time of 25:42.1 that was followed closely by junior Peter Starnes' 29th place mark of 25:53.5.
Jack Whitney and Caleb Bowen then finished fourth and fifth on the team with respective 33rd and 35th place times of 26:10 and 26:16.40, while freshman Brian Salmons claimed the sixth spot with a 41st place mark of 26:24.9. Jordan Brown-Stobbe (27:02.5), Trey Beckett (27:20.1), and Adam Frohnapfel (27:41.5) closed things out for Marshall by finishing 51st, 54th, and 55th.
The team's total time of 2:08:58.40 saw the Herd men tally a score of 126 that was just 25 points higher than fourth place Memphis and 15 points less than sixth place Houston. Defending champion Tulsa retained the title with a score of 25, while UTEP (56) and Rice (78) rounded out the top three. Tulane finished last with 236 points.
"Our men ran a good team race today," said head coach Jeff Small. "David Caldwell earned second team All-Conference USA honors to lead the squad, and Ryan Bowser and Peter Starnes also ran very well for the Herd men. Overall, I was proud of the team for finding success on a tough course in such difficult weather conditions."
On the women's side, sophomore Celia Leonard paced the Herd yet again as she ran to a 24th place finish amidst a field of 89 runners. Her personal-best 5k time of 17:56.4 was followed most closely on the team by junior Leslie Thomas, who concluded the championships in 33rd after crossing the line in 18:20.4.
Senior Kelley Mortakis assumed her usual number three spot with a 44th place mark of 18:39.3, while freshman Alexandria Phares ended the race in 55th with a time of 19:09.3. Lauren Bartoldson (19:27.1), Sammantha Stroker (19:50.9), Julia Galloway (20:07.6), Zoe Leonard (20:09.1), and Molly Miloscia (20:42.7) then finished the race in 63rd, 74th, 77th, 78th, and 83rd places, respectively, as each lady on the team set a new personal-best for the 5k event.
The women's total team time of 1:33:32.50 was good enough for 208 points and an eighth place standing in the field of twelve teams. Overall, it marked a four spot improvement from the team's twelfth place finish of a season ago and is the best-ever finish for the women's team at a C-USA Championship.
As it was in the men's race, the defending champion also reclaimed the title on the women's side, as SMU cruised to victory with 38 points. Tulane finished just ahead of Marshall in seventh by a meager four point margin, and UTEP ended the race in ninth with a score of 210 that was just two points behind the Herd. Houston finished last with 247 points.
"I have to credit Leslie Thomas and Kelley Mortakis for helping our younger runners believe they could run their best races of the year," said Small. "The result of that was the team's best-ever finish at the Conference USA Championships, and it gives us something to build upon for the future. I was also happy to see Celia Leonard continue her great season with the fastest 5k of her life. I'm proud of the work both teams put in for this meet."
Following its impressive showing at the Conference USA Championships, the Herd will now await the start of the NCAA Mid-East Regionals, which are set to take place in State College, Pa., on Nov. 9.
Men's Results | Women's Results