CANTON, Ga. (Nov. 9, 2019) – Sophomore Bekah Owen led a group of six Buffaloes inside the top 13 as the No. 6 Milligan College women's cross country team earned the Appalachian Athletic Conference runner-up Saturday morning at Boling Park. Milligan finished second to top-ranked SCAD Atlanta by two points.
This marked the 17th straight season Milligan finished as either the AAC champion or AAC runner-up. The Buffaloes have won the conference title 14 times during that stretch.
Owen ran 18:02 to land fifth individually and posted one of the fastest 5k times in Milligan history. Sophomores Gabrielle Mardis (18:15) and Avery DeWolf (18:21) followed in eighth and ninth. Junior Amy Ferguson (18:37), senior Katlyn Haas (18:45) and senior Erica Stone (18:46) finished 11th, 12th and 13th. Milligan's top six all finished within 45 seconds of one another.
"Having been in the conference longer than anyone else, it's so rewarding to see how competitive the AAC has become," Head Coach Chris Layne said. "Hats off to all of our athletes and coaches."
Battle of two of the top NAIA programs
Ten of the top 13 runners came from No. 6 Milligan (45 points) and No. 1 SCAD Atlanta (43 points), and the two teams finished well ahead of third-place Tennessee Wesleyan (89 points). While Milligan ran by committee to take spots 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12, SCAD was able to claim the narrow victory with a few closer to the top, taking spots 1, 2, 4, 6 and 30.
"I was really proud of our sophomore women today," Layne said. "They've been the staple for us all season, but the encouraging thing is we've got a group that is capable of being side by side. Our upperclassmen have provided a ton of leadership and there are a few of them that have been there before."
SCAD's Emily Kearny, a five-time NAIA runner of the week this season, won the women's 5k to claim AAC Runner of the Year. She finished in 16:51, over 30 seconds faster than the rest of the field.
Milligan placed six runners on the AAC All-Conference team, including Owen who made the first team. Mardis, DeWolf, Ferguson, Haas and Stone all made the All-Conference second team. Additionally, freshmen Maci Cloninger, Ali Burns and Caitlin Dominy earned spots on the AAC All-Freshman team. The trio finished 23rd, 25th and 29th with times of 19:31, 19:38 and 19:50, respectively.
Milligan will head to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, set for Friday, Nov. 22, in Vancouver, Washington. The men's race is set for 1:30 p.m. eastern time with the women's race to follow at 2:30 p.m. Last season, Milligan finished 17th on the men's side and 12th on the women's side.