The Southeast region contains two teams inside the national top 10 with Queens (N.C.), currently ranked #1 in the region, and Mount Olive currently ranked #2 in the region. These two teams will likely battle it out for the regional title this weekend. UNC-Pembroke has had a nice season as well and finds themselves sitting at the #3 spot in the region. Augusta and Flagler are currently the #4 and #5 seeds in the Southeast.
Queens won their conference meet with 19 points and made it look rather easy. Daniel Wallis won the individual title by 12 seconds and then saw his teammates take spots 3rd through 7th. Queens competed at the Lewis Crossover earlier this season where the finished 2nd behind Western Colorado and ahead of Simon Fraser, Saginaw Valley, and CSU-Pueblo, showing us they have the depth to compete with some of the best in the nation. They took home the team title over their regional rival Mount Olive at the Royals Challenge and then tied with Mount Olive with 126 points at Pre-Nationals. This team has a strong veteran presence and they should be ready to help Queens reach another level.
Mount Olive seems to have tempoed their conference meet on their way to a perfect score while taking the top 10 spots. Prior to this, we saw them place 16th at the Paul Short Invite (Gold) behind some very impressive D1 teams. They finished 2nd at the Royals Challenge only four points behind Queens. In their last race of the season before conference, they tied with Queens at Pre-Nationals for 2nd (redundancy is fun, eh?) in what looked to be a strong effort from Tai Smith and Jacob Gonzalez. They are also a veteran-led group without a real low-stick as Smith, Gonzalez, and Alexandre Durand are all capable of finishing as the first scorer for the team.
UNC-Pembroke was led to a four point team title at their conference meet by freshman Joshua Chepkesir and sophomore Silus Kipkoech who finished 1st and 2nd. At the Bobcat Invitational, we saw Pembroke take home the team title behind another 1-2 finish, this time with Kipkoech and Chepkesir switching spots (but were only one second apart). Logan Ward was 3rd and 51 seconds behind those two. I really like Pembroke this season in large part because of their two low-sticks. Outside of them and Ward though, it becomes hard pressed to see them competing with the likes of Queens and Mount Olive through 10,000 meters.
1. Queens (N.C.)
2. Mount Olive
1. Joshua Chepkesir (UNC-Pembroke)
2. Daniel Wallis (Queens (N.C.))
3. Silus Kipkoech (UNC-Pembroke)
4. Luke Greer (Carson-Newman)
5. Alexandre Durand (Mount Olive)
Moving to the women’s side, we see the same two teams sit at #1 and #2. Queens holds down the top spot with Mount Olive close behind them. Flagler is in the #3 spot with Anderson (S.C.) at #4 and North Georgia at #5.
The Queens women did almost the same thing as the men in terms of points scored at the conference meet. They scored 26 points on their way to a dominant team performance led by Carissa Jenkins, Natane Deruytter, and Mandi Moxie who finished 2-3-4. The team finished 7th at the Lewis Crossover, 4th at the Royals Challenge, and capped their regular season off with a 5th place finish at Pre-Nationals before the conference meet. This Queens team is a strong and experienced group that is looking to get back to the national meet.
The Mount Olive women missed a perfect score by two points at their conference meet, but scored 17 points and won by 53 points over the 2nd place team. Leah Hanle is arguably the fastest girl in the region and has had a tremendous season while leading the Spartans to a 6th place finish at the Royals Challenge and a 7th place finish at the Pre-Nationals meet earlier this year. Despite not winning the conference (it also looks like they tempoed), the Spartans look to be peaking at the right time of the season. Celine Ritter and Shona Blades are both strong second and third scorers and if they can keep the same spread time from their conference championships meet (57 seconds), they should see a good amount of success at the regional meet.
Flagler was able to fend off North Georgia by 14 points after putting three runners inside the top 10 and four inside the top 11. Heloise Duffie De Tassigny took home the individual title by 24 seconds with her teammate Lauren Penkala finishing in 3rd place, 29 seconds behind Tassigny. They finished 10th as a team at the Royals Challenge without Tassigny running. Three weeks earlier, they took home a 3rd place finish behind Tassigny and Penkala’s strong efforts (9th and 13th overall, 1st and 3rd in terms of team scoring). There seems to be a fall off from their second scorer to their third and the question at hand is whether or not they can keep the gap small enough to place among the top three this weekend.
1. Queens (N.C.)
2. Mount Olive
4. North Georgia
5. Anderson (S.C.)
1. Leah Hanle (Mount Olive)
2. Natane Deruytter (Queens (N.C.))
3. Domtila Kiplagat (Lenoir-Rhyne)
4. Heloise Duffie De Tassigny (Flagler)
5. Carissa Jenkins (Queens (N.C.))