Cross country finishes on top in conference tournament

Evan Pflugradt

The Wichita State women’s cross country team finished Saturday as the runner-up in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, and the men finished third. 

The Shockers finished second to the pre-meet favorite Bradley, 54-76. 

Wichita State Junior Sidney Hirsch led the women with their best conference finish since 2012. Hirsch placed seventh in the 5K race with a time of 17:18.79. Freshman Rebekah Topham followed in eighth place at 17:18.87. 

Hirsch and Topham were recognized with First Team All-Conference honors. Topham was also named Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. 

“I’m very pleased to see Rebekah honored with the Freshman of the Year award,” head coach Kirk Hunter said. “I was also pleased to see Sidney lead us through to a second place finish in a tough race.” 

Other finishers for the Shockers were Kayla Deighan in 16th (17:38.90), Lycia Holton in 18th (17:41.55), Emilea Finley in 27th (17:56.48), Paige Wells in 41st (18:27.42), Jordan Maestas in 42nd (18:29.12) and Sarah Wright in 50th (18:44.30).

Bradley’s Caitlin Busch took first for the second-straight season, 16:54.20.

The men took third place after losing a tiebreaker to Illinois State, tied at 78. Illinois State won the battle after comparing times with the top-five finishers for each team. The Redbirds finished better against four of five comparable Shockers. 

Bradley won the men’s tournament scoring 67, their first conference win in school history. 

Indiana State’s John Mascari won the 8K race for the fourth time in his career with a time of 23:39.06. Mascari is the first to win four times in the tournament’s history.

In the men’s race, junior Brady Johnson led the Shockers with an 11th place finish in a time of 24:25.72. Ugis Jocis followed with a time of 24:32.98 for 12th. 

Other finishers for the Shockers were Kyle Larkin in 16th (24:38.24), Paul Raymond in 19th (24:48.17), Dray Carson in 20th (24:49.87), Gage Garcia in 24th (24:59.32), Nathan Wickoren in 25th (25:02.56) and Reno Law in 34th (25:26.02). 

“We were disappointed to get third,” Hunter said. “Our guys came here to win, not get third.” 

The Shockers were pre-ranked third in the conference polls for this tournament. Their third place finish was their best since 2012. 

“In this meet you have to win the small battles in the last mile of the race,” Hunter said. “We didn’t do it this time.”  

Wichita State finished all seven of their runners ahead of all competitors’ fifth-runner, which Hunter added is an impressive accomplishment.

“It’s an exceptional overall team performance,” Hunter said. 

The top five finishers for the Shockers finished in the top 20, the best of any team.

The Shockers travel for the NCAA Regional Tournament on Nov. 13 in Lawrence.