JACKSON, Miss. — Alaina Spears won the individual title with a career-best performance to lead the Cedarville University Yellow Jackets to their 11th NCCAA Women’s Cross Country Championship on Nov. 11.
The senior from Frazeysburg, toured the Choctaw Trails 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 29 seconds to win by 13 seconds.
Two teammates joined Spears on the All-America Team (Top 15 finishers). Christy Jesson placed sixth in 18:12 and Kayla Casaletto was 13th in 18:29.
Rachel Sweeney placed 17th in 18:49 while Grace Norman was 19th in 18:52. Rounding out the lineup were Jordan Penrod (20th; 19:04) and Carly Rose (22nd; 19:12).
It’s the 11th time a Cedarville runner has copped the women’s individual crown. Spears joins two-time winner Jane Romig (1984, 1985) as well as Krista Pritchard (1992), Michelle Burson (1994), Julianne Pletcher (1997), Erin Nehus (2001), Jennifer Tetrick (2002), Nicole Santos (2008), Katie Gillespie (2009) and Hannah Lamos (2011) in the winners’ circle.
Cedarville totaled 55 points and runner-up Biola had 67. Colorado Christian took third place with 89 points.
Jackets coach Jeff Bolender was tabbed the NCCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
Nine Lady Jackets were recognized as NCCAA Scholar-Athletes (juniors/seniors with a minimum 3.40 cumulative grade-point average). The list includes Jesson, Rose, Spears, Erin Ashley, Sarah Hoffman, Gabby Johnson, Carsyn Koch, Paige Logan and Rheeme Zayed.
Cedarville’s last NCCAA victory was in 2015. The Jackets have won six of the past 12 championships. CU finishers 2-thru-7 were all within 60 seconds of one another. The field included 13 teams and 89 competitors.
Story courtesy of Cedarville University Athletics.
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