BETHANY, Okla. -- For the second consecutive season, the John Brown University women's cross country team boasted a freshman conference champion as Cera Eckenroth led all runners with a 22:18 effort in the 6,000-meter race to claim the top podium spot as the Golden Eagles finished third as a team on Saturday (Nov. 4) morning inside Eldon Lyon Park at the SAC Championships.
Eckenroth's nearly 15-second victory was the second of the season for the freshman, who also claimed the individual title at the Carol Swenson Meet at McPheron (Kan.) earlier this season. She now joins Allika Pearson '22 and sophomore Hope Ahnfeldt as the only Golden Eagles in program history to claim first place at the league's annual championship meet.
John Brown turned in its best 6,000-meter time of the season, clocking in at 1:59:57 to finish with 53 points. Texas Wesleyan took the league title in a time of 1:58:49 and 46 points. Oklahoma City took the runner-up spot on the podium.
Freshman Esmeralda Sandoval posted a new personal record with a time of 22:42 to claim third place overall, while sophomore Hope Ahnfeldt finished eighth, crossing the tape at 23:42 – also a new personal record.
The trio of Golden Eagles, by virtue of finishing among the top 15 finishers, were later named to the All-Conference team.
Junior Emma Brown finished in 20th in a time of 25:21, while junior Olivia Scates finished out the John Brown scoring in 23rd place at 25:51. Both Brown and Scates' times were personal records.
Eckenroth, Sandoval and Ahnfeldt are all eligible for individual qualification by virtue of their All-Conference finish at the meet. Each conference is afforded the top four runners of non-qualifying teams to run at the NAIA National Championships, hosted at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Championship Course in Vancouver, Wash. on Nov. 17.
The JBU men also placed third with 76 points behind Oklahoma City 23 and Texas Wesleyan 35.
Chase Schermer led the Golden Eagles, finishing 11th at 26:04.30.
Zach Briscoe was 16th at 26:46.30, Josiah Petak 18th at 26:59.10., Henry Zedler 19th at 27:00.50, Jean Benoit-Merte 22nd at 27:15.70, Andrew Harder 24th at 27:26.10 and Jake Hagood 31st at 29:04.80 to complete the Golden Eagles' top seven scores.