Winfield's Veterans' Home grounds will be the site of the 2013 KCAC Cross Country Championship on Saturday, November 9. The women's 5-kilometer race will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the men's 8-kilometer race is scheduled to follow at 11:15 a.m.
The winning team in each division will be the KCAC's automatic team qualifier for the NAIA National Championships to be held November 23 at Rim Rock Farm, northwest of Lawrence, Kansas. The top five individual finishers in each division not on the qualifying team and finishing in the top 15 of the conference meet will also qualify for the national championships which are being hosted by the KCAC and the Lawrence Sports Commission.
Brielle Lund of Tabor College will return to defend her KCAC individual women's title from 2012 while the leading returnee in the men's division will be last year's runner-up, Joel Allen, also of Tabor.
Lund won last year's KCAC meet, hosted by Ottawa University on its Pomona Lake course, with time of 19:32.0.
Twice named the KCAC cross country Runner-of-the-Week this fall, she followed up her KCAC cross country title run with the top finish by a KCAC female at the NAIA National Championships, finishing 81st.
Also included in her collegiate resume are KCAC track titles at 3,000 both indoors and outdoors.
Seven other top 11 finishers returning from last year's KCAC women's championship include: 2. Rachel Renken (Friends), 4. Hillary Callaway (KWU); 6. Haley Welch (Friends), 7. Chelsea Fullerton (Ottawa), 8. Connie Collins (Friends), 9. Aspen Frey (McPherson), 10. Cassie Hollenback (Southwestern), and 11. Kelsey Buffum (Southwestern).
Allen placed second at the 2012 championship held on Ottawa University's Pomona Lake course in a time of 26:38.3. Named the KCAC Runner-of-the-Week twice this season, Allen placed fifth at the 2011 KCAC meet and was Tabor's top finisher in all five of the BlueJays' meets, topped by his KCAC leading 25:01.35 at the Southwestern NAIA Mid-States Classic two weeks ago.
Half of last season's KCAC top ten men finishers return including: 4. Brock Nooney (Friends), 5. Colton McNinch (Southwestern), 6. Brooks Ballou (Saint Mary) and 7. Peyton Wade (Friends).
Preseason polls by the conference coaches ranked Friends University as the early favorite to repeat as champion of the women's division, followed by Tabor, while Southwestern was the men's preseason favorite over the University of Saint Mary.
Friends University is the two-time defending women's team champions, but Southwestern and Kansas Wesleyan appear ready to challenge the Falcons.
The last 13 women's team titles have been distributed among four schools with Southwestern winning five outright crowns while KWU and Friends have each won three team championships. Southwestern and KWU shared the 2006 title. Ottawa won the 2003 team championship.
Ranked No. 20 in the latest NAIA national poll, Southwestern's men will enter the 2013 conference meet as the defending champion, after Friends University in 2011 broke the Moundbuilders' streak of 31 straight KCAC titles, from 1980 through 2010.
Page 2 of 2 - Prior to Friends' win in 2011, Bethany College was the last non-Southwestern team to win a KCAC title, having taken home the team title in 1979.
Over the past 33 years, the Moundbuilders have also won all but four individual titles.
Seven schools are represented among the KCAC's top 10 women's best times led by Ana Gamboa's (Saint Mary) 18:22.65. Three schools have a pair of individuals in the top 10: University of Saint Mary - Gamboa and No. 8 Amy Jystad; Kansas Wesleyan - No. 2 Valarie Segay (18:45.4) and No. 9 Tara Davis; Southwestern - No. 3 Kelsey Buffum (18:45.9) and No. 5 Cassie Hollenback (18:47.98). Rounding out top 10 are No. 4 Brielle Lund (Tabor – 18:46.2), No. 6 Rachel Renken (Friends), No. 7 Amber Burgess (Sterling) and No. 10 Aspen Frey (McPherson).
Gamboa's and Hollenback's bests came at the recent Southwestern hosted NAIA Mid-States Classic on the Veterans' Home course.
The other top five times all came at the Missouri Southern Invitational.
The men's top 10 has representatives from six schools led by Joel Allen's (Tabor) 25:01.35. He is joined in the top 10 by teammate Garrett Daughtery (#5 – 25:44.30). Three other schools have two reps in the top 10: University of Saint Mary – #2 Brooks Ballou (25:08.72) and #4 Josh Whittaker (25:34.5); Southwestern - #3 Colton McNinch (25:24.5) and #9 Sam McDaniel; Friends - #7 Brock Nooney and #8 Peyton Wade. The remaining top 10 times were posted by #6 Jeremiah Gerardy (Bethany) and #10 Hunter Stayton (Kansas Wesleyan).
The start and finish lines for both races will be in the area east of the building complex of the Winfield Veterans' Home. The championship course is relatively flat, mostly grass with a couple of long, gentle hills. The women's 5-kilometer race will consist of one 3,000-meter loop, then one 2,000-meter loop. The men's 8-kilometer course will be two loops of the 3,000-meter course followed by one 2,000-meter loop.
The Southwestern women's 5k course record is 16:17.99 by Hannah Helker (Oklahoma Baptist) in 2013 while the men's 8k course record is 23:17 by Kennedy Kithuka (Wayland Baptist) in 2011.