SPARTANBURG, S.C. --- The Tusculum men's and women's cross country teams each finished seventh in the South Atlantic Conference Championship meet, held Saturday morning at the Milliken Research Center.
Senior Nicole McMillen, running in her first collegiate cross country race, finished fifth overall and earned first-team All-SAC honors in the women's competition. For the men, sophomore Jackson Beason and freshman Kyler Hodges were honorable mention All-SAC after finishing 15th and 21st, respectively, in the men's race.
The Pioneers will run in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional meet on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Oakwood, Georgia.
McMillen, a four-year starter for the Tusculum women's soccer team, made her first and only conference championship meet a memorable one as she came in fifth overall with a time of 22:26.2 over the six-kilometer course.
McMillen, who finished fourth in the 5,000 meters at the SAC Indoor Track and Field Championship last winter, became the first Tusculum runner to earn first-team honors in cross country since SAC Hall of Famer Amanda Musick did so for the fourth straight year in 2004.
Junior Alissa Furches finished 25th overall with a time of 23:54.6, followed by sophomore Yoland Boyce in 52nd place with a time of 25:34.5. Junior Brooklyn Smith had a career-best 6K time of 25:47.8, placing her in 58th place overall, and senior Makenzi Alley was the Pioneers' fifth scorer in 62nd place with a time of 26:27.4.
The Pioneers finished seventh overall in the field of 11 schools with 178 points. Queens won the team championship for the third straight year with 26 points, followed by Anderson (80 points), Lenoir-Rhyne (105) and Carson-Newman (108).
Lenoir-Rhyne's Domtila Kiplagat won the individual championship with a time of 21:39.7, finishing 30 seconds ahead of runner-up Carissa Jenkins of Queens.
Tusculum improved two spots from last year's ninth-place finish, as Beason crossed the line 15th overall with a time of 26:03.0. Hodges joined Beason in honorable mention All-SAC status by placing 21st in 26:21.6, with T.J. Tupps running 26:51.2 which landed him in 36th place overall.
Senior J'Quen Johnson turned in his best career time and finish in a SAC Championship, placing 46th with a time of 27:07.6. Freshman Daniel Rotich took 60th place overall and ran 27:58.4, followed by freshman Carson Walls in 74th place at 29:19.7 and sophomore Isaac Hybarger in 86th place in 32:19.6.
Queens repeated as SAC champions by putting six runners among the top seven finishers, including overall winner Daniel Wallis who covered the course in 24:34.0 for an eight-second win over Luke Greer of Carson-Newman. The Royals had just 19 points in the final standings.
Anderson was the team runner up with 85 points, with Wingate (94 points), Lincoln Memorial (128), Catawba (139) and Lenoir-Rhyne (160) ahead of the Pioneers' 168 points in the team standings.
South Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships
at Spartanburg, S.C.
Team: 1. Queens, 26; 2. Anderson, 80; 3. Lenoir-Rhyne, 105; 4. Carson-Newman, 108; 5. Catawba, 121; 6. Wingate, 124; 7. Tusculum, 178; 8. Lincoln Memorial, 249; 9. Mars Hill, 265; 10. Newberry, 296; 11. Coker, 299.
Tusculum results: 5. Nicole McMillen, 22:26.2; 25. Alissa Furches, 23:54.6; 52. Yoland Boyce, 25:34.5; 56. Brooklyn Smith, 25:47.8; 62. Makenzi Alley, 26:27.4; 75. Angel Quay, 28:34.0; 84. Judith Chepkirui, 32:56.3.
Team: 1. Queens, 19; 2. Anderson, 85; 3. Wingate, 94; 4. Lincoln Memorial, 128; 5. Catawba, 139; 6. Lenoir-Rhyne, 160; 7. Tusculum, 168; 8. Carson-Newman, 195; 9. Mars Hill, 258; 10. Newberry, 269; 11. Coker, 286.
Tusculum results: 15. Jackson Beason, 26:03.0; 21. Kyler Hodges, 26:21.6; 36. T.J. Tupps, 26:51.2; 46. J'Quen Johnson, 27:07.6; 60. Daniel Rotich, 27:58.4; 74. Carson Walls, 29:19.7; 86. Isaac Hybarger, 32:19.6.