Embry-Riddle, SCAD among favorites as USCB hosts Sun Conference Cross Country Championships

sports@islandpacket.comNovember 9, 2013 

The University of South Carolina Beaufort cross country team will host close to 200 runners Saturday morning for the 2013 Sun Conference Cross Country Championships in Hardeeville.

The 8K men's race is scheduled for 8 a.m., followed by the 5K women's race at 8:45.

Most of the runners will be seeing the course for the second time in three weeks after competing in the Asics Sand Shark Invitational presented by Mortgage Network on Oct. 26. Because of that anomaly, the favorites are easy to identify.

Embry-Riddle is the clear favorite to win its ninth straight men's team title after finishing third at the Sand Shark Invitational. The host Sand Sharks were 15th.

The 15th-ranked Eagles are led by junior Vincent Bett and freshman Paul McKenna, who were the top two Sun Conference runners two weeks ago. Bett finished fifth in 24:53 and McKenna was 10th in 25:01. USCB's Anthony Vecchio finished 12th in a school-record 25:08.

For the women, No. 23 SCAD comes in as the favorite after placing second at the Sand Shark Invitational, but seven-time defending champion Embry-Riddle was just 43 points behind in third. The Eagles had the individual champion in senior Ellie Staker (17:41), but SCAD's depth won the day. The Bees had runners finish second and third, as freshman Jessy Scarpone finished in 18:03 and senior Melanie Novack ran an 18:12.

USCB finished 10th two weeks ago. Sand Shark senior Joyce Miller was eighth at the Sand Shark Invitational, finishing in 18:33.

The top men's and women's teams will earn automatic berths in the NAIA National Championships in Lawrence, Kan., on Nov. 23, as will the top five individuals in each race not on a qualifying team. The top seven finishers in each race will earn All-Sun Conference first team honors, while the eighth through 14th finishers will make up the second team.

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