No. 19 Milligan women’s cross country perfect to claim 10th straight AAC crown
Dayton, Tenn. (Nov. 3, 2012) — The No. 19 Milligan women’s cross country team was perfect as they swept the top five positions en route to their 10th straight Appalachian Athletic Conference title on Saturday in Dayton, Tenn. In addition, Matt Murphy (Greeneville, Tenn.) ran to a national qualifying position to lead the Milligan men.
“The ladies set their sights on a 10th title and really wanted to give the perfect score a shot,” Head Coach Chris Layne said. “It was really cool to see that happen on such a special day.”
The Buffaloes recorded a team total of 15 points, a perfect score. It is the first time that a team has accomplished the feat in the conference championships.
Milligan’s top five finished within six seconds of each other as they were paced by 2012 AAC Champion Catie McMahon (Lanoka Harbor, N.J.). McMahon covered the 5K course in a time of 19:40.
“Catie was creeping towards the front the entire race and she timed her finish perfectly,” Layne said. “It’s great to see her back in the top of our women’s pack. She has remained patient this year and deserves a lot of the credit for what she accomplished today.”
Heather Exline (Glouster, Ohio) recorded a second place finish as she ran to a time of 19:41. Senior Natalia Rivas (Johnson City, Tenn.) ran to a third place finish with a time of 19:43, while Danielle Mitchell (Johnson City, Tenn.) finished fourth with a time of 19:45. Mackenzie Patten (Kingsport, Tenn.) rounded out the top five with a time of 19:46. Christine McMahon (Lanoka Harbor, N.J.) and Meagan Smith (Versailles, Ky.) rounded out the Milligan runners in sixth and seventh.
The Buffaloes were without Meagan Wright (Florence, S.C.) and Cassie St. John (Jonesborough, Tenn.), who trained through the race.
“I was a little concerned, racing without Meagan and Cassie, but these women did an outstanding job of protecting this team and getting the bid to nationals,” Layne said.
On the men’s side, Matt Murphy (Greeneville, Tenn.) ran to an individual qualification for the 2012 NAIA Cross Country National Championships.
“Matt was struggling with fitness and injury early on and we couldn’t get a break,” Layne said. “He ran a gutsy race today and his talent and fight will keep him in the game another two weeks. I’m excited he’ll make the trip to nationals as an individual qualifier.”
As a team, the Buffaloes finished fourth.
“This was just one of those years where things continued to go against us, but I’m proud of how our men have kept their heads up,” Layne said. “They lined up today and gave everything they had for the entire race.”
The Milligan women and Murphy will travel to Vancouver, Wash., for the 2012 NAIA Cross Country National Championships in two weeks.