The Bob Jones University women’s cross-country team became the NCCAA DI South Regional Champions with a decisive first place finish in the Warrior Invitational at Southern Wesleyan University on Saturday. This also marked the first regional championship win for any athletic program in BJU history.
The Bruins started out strong from the beginning of the race, and freshman Sarah-Paige Guerrant was the first Bruin to cross the finish line. Guerrant came in third place overall with a time of 21:57. Senior Deborah Spannagel finished right behind her in fourth place with a time of 21:58. Overall, five of the Lady Bruins placed in the race’s top 10. “The course was a lot easier than the first course we had,” Guerrant said. “The last race was so hard. It had so many hills, and this course didn’t have as many hills.”
The Lady Bruins ran against Southern Wesleyan University, Truett-McConnell College, Toccoa Falls College and Columbia International University.
“The women competed really well; I told them going in just to focus on just getting better this meet, “ said Coach Landon Bright. “They stuck to the race plan of going out conservative, and pick off people in the middle miles. This was the fastest time as a team for this course.”
The Bruins men’s team began soon after the women, but was hindered by sickness and injury as the Bruins’ best runner, junior Josh Rush, was held out due to health reasons. The men still ran a strong race despite the circumstances; senior Sam Koenke finished was the first Bruin to finish the 8K with a time of 29:39. Koenke and senior teammate Daniel Marinelli were the only two Bruins who placed in the top 15. The men finished fourth out of the five schools.
“We had a couple guys who were sick, and we weren’t going in 100 percent,” Bright said. “We are starting to get things back together and are looking forward to next races with flatter and faster courses.“ The Bruins will compete next in the Royal Cross Country challenge on Oct. 9 at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.