Elon Women Finishes as Runner-Up at SoCon Championships

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Junior Luis Vargas earned a top-three overall finish as the Elon men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the 2013 Southern Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 2. The Phoenix women finished as the runner-up at the meet while the men placed seventh.

Vargas recorded the highest finish ever by an Elon male at the league championships after finishing third with a time of 24:52.92 in the men’s 8K race behind the UNCG All-American duo of Paul Chelimo and Paul Katam. The Angier, N.C., native earned first team All-Southern Conference honors for the second straight year.

“Luis had an unbelievable performance today finishing third,” said Elon head cross country coach Christine Engel. “I was really proud of his effort and the way he executed the race plan perfectly and he ran a smart, tough race.”

The Elon women finished second at the championships by a slight two-point margin to Furman, 48-50, in the women’s 5K run. The maroon and gold placed two runners in the top ten in senior Allyson Oram (fifth, 17:56.74) and sophomore Elyse Bierut (ninth, 18:14.62). Tereza Novotna (11th, 18:29.46), Haylee Dawe (12th, 18:29.84) and Kimberly Johansen (13th, 18:35.33) rounded the top-five scores for Elon.

“I’m really proud of the way our women battled and ran a tough race today,” said Engel. “The course was very tough, but it was our best performance of the year. Our top five finished inside of the top 13 and they ran so great together. They went after it and we were just two points shy of a conference championship.

“It’s tough losing by such a close margin again, but our team is so consistent year in and year out and we’re always in the hunt for a championship. They really run their best and rise to the occasion when it matters.”

Oram earned first team All-SoCon honors after recording the highest finish for an Elon female since 2007 at the SoCon meet. Bierut, Novotna, Dawe and Johansen were selected to the All-SoCon second team. Johansen also earned All-SoCon Freshman honors.

“Allyson ran another great race today to lead the team and finishing fifth,” added Engel. “Each of our top five made the All-Conference team so I’m really proud of their performance.”

On the men’s side, Ari Rotschild was the next Phoenix runner to cross the line with a time of 26:16.12 in 31st overall followed by Nick Schneider in 35th and a time of 26:30.07. James Stevenson (46th, 27:08.14), Ian O’Leary (52nd, 27:22.08) and Ryan Gwaltney (55th, 27:48.00) also competed for the maroon and gold.

Furman also captured the men’s title with 48 points, beating out last year’s champion, Appalachian State, who finished second with 63.

The Phoenix has a pair of meets left on its schedule, as a few members of the squad will compete at the NC State Three Stripe Invitational on Nov. 9. Elon will then race at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 15, in Charlottesville, Va.