Rodriguez brothers run well for SFA
BEAUMONT -- Lauren Smith won her second consecutive individual title, helping lead the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks to their seventh conference crown Oct. 26 at the Southland Conference Cross Country Championships at Tyrrell Park in Beaumont.
SFA’s title is its second in the past three seasons and was joined by a strong showing from the Lumberjack men, who turned in a third-place finish led by senior Xavier Rodriguez, a Poth High School graduate, and his sixth-place finish.
“I couldn’t be happier with how well we competed today, on both sides,” cross-country coach Cody Clark said following the meet. “Things fell in as we anticipated on the guys’ side and the girls really showed tremendous grit to finish things out the way they did. They earned it every step of the way.”
On the men’s side, the ’Jacks placed four runners in the top 20, led by Rodriguez’s sixth-place finish. The senior turned in a time of 24:13.1 on the 8,000-meter course, bettering the SFA record at the conference meet by a second. Behind him was another senior, Adam Saloom, who finished in 24:47.9 for 13th place.
Rodriguez’s younger brother, Jonus, also a Poth graduate, came in 17th in a time of 24:55.4, and redshirt freshman Nick Guerra registered a 20th-place score at 25:06.9. Senior Hunter Russell rounded out the scoring with a time of 25:19.5 to finish 24th overall, and Moses Luevano just missed scoring, finishing two spots behind Russell with a time of 25:22.3.
“The guys ran very well, especially our seniors,” Clark said. “Xavier had run well all season and we expected nothing less than an all-conference performance from him, which he obviously turned in.”
The men finished just 14 points behind Lamar, who saw its streak of six consecutive conference titles come to an end as McNeese State finished 1-2-3 in the race and totaled just 25 points, which was the lowest men’s score at the championship since 1982.
Both the Lumberjacks and Ladyjacks will get two weeks off before jumping into competition again on Nov. 9 when they travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to take part in the NCAA South Central Regional Championships.