University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Makenzie Jones earned All-Conference at the Southern Cross Country Championships Saturday morning at the Georgia Premiere Cross Country Course and Seth Robinson earned a spot on the league’s All-Freshman team.
The women placed fifth overall with 146 points, six behind UNCG and the men’s finished seventh overall. Neither team ran its full roster due to COVID-19 issues. The men carried just five runners on the final roster, one junior and four freshmen.
“We competed well today,” Chattanooga head coach Andy Meyer said. “McKenzie Jones ran smart and ran strong. To be in the Top Five in this conference is tremendous.” Jones ran a season-best 18:11.91 placing fifth overall and earning a spot on the SoCon All-Conference First Team. She ran near the front of the pack throughout the race and outpaced a pair of Furman runners to the finish line.
“Lesley ran the race we all knew she was capable of, to be in the Top 20 is a great result for her,” Meyer said. “Sophia has been a mainstay of this program for the last four years. She accelerated through the race and finished her college cross country career with another consist, steady result.”
Sophomore Lesley Green covered the 5-kilometer distance in a time of 19:11.37, improving her time earlier this season by more than half a minute. Seniors Sophia Neglia and Ashlynd Broling Miller ran in close proximity throughout the race. Neglia finished with a season-best time of 19:51.34 while Miller was not far behind at 20:00.90, also an improvement over her previous time this season. ”Ashlynd and Faith ran solid races to finish out our Top Five,” Meyer said. Sophomore Faith Brown improved her time as well this season and was the final scoring runner across the line for Chattanooga with a time of 21:01.49. Julianna McReynolds, running in her first SoCon Championships, was next for the Mocs with a time of 21:22.31 and Jade Hale clocked in at 23:52.78. ”These ladies exhibited a great attitude and resilience,” Meyer said. “They improved over last year considering the uncertainty of our season. Coach [Ty] Griffin did a great job having them ready and focused. They all improved their times over the last race on this course. ”I’m excited for next year with what we having coming back. We have a great future ahead.” ETSU’s Lindsey Stallworth led the women with a time of 17:15.62 and Furman was the overall winner all five scoring runners in the Top 10 for 28 points. Samford was second with 80 points followed by the Bucs in third with 83. In much the same way, all the men posted improved times over the race earlier this season held at the same course. ”We definitely went into the day cautious about results,” Meyer said. “Without three of our top six men due to COVID-19 issues, we certainly weren’t overly optimistic in our finish projections. We went to the line with only five men: one junior and four freshmen.”
Jonathan Boyd led the men with a time of 26:44.09 for 26th overall. Robinson was one of the top freshmen runners in the league and second for the Mocs placing 31st overall with a time of 26:56.37, an improvement of more than 30 seconds for a career-best time. Kaigen Mulkey clocked in a t 27:25.42 and Eric Mitchell was the fourth Mocs finisher at 28:48.62.
Jacob Boykin moved ahead of several competitors in the second half of the race was the fifth UTC runner across the line at 29:50.48.
”Jonathan ran great to lead us,” Meyer said of his top runner. “Seth ran unbelievably well to make the All-Freshman Team.
”Kaigen, a freshman, ran very well and surprised us with a Top 40 placing. Today was Eric Mitchell’s first-ever collegiate race and he and Jacob ran solid races.”
Furman’s Daniel Bernal was the top finisher at 24:20.21 followed by VMi’s Jahanzib Shahbaz at 24:23.74. The Paladins claimed the team title with 20 points, followed by the Keydets with 63. ETSU was third, UNCG fourth and Samford fifth.
”I was pleased with our effort and certainly with everyone returning, we will be in great shape for the next few years,” Meyer said. “I’m excited to see wat this bunch has in store.”
The season will continue with yet to be announced meets in the spring.