Skarda finishes eighth in snow at XC nationals
They don’t cancel cross country races because of snow.
Despite waking up to two inches of fresh snow on the course Saturday, the NCAA Division II national cross country championships were run in snow and frigid temperatures in Louisville, Ky.
Mesa State junior Alexis Skarda finished eighth in 21 minutes, 33.3 seconds, earning All-America status for the second time in her career.
“She just hung in there,” Mesa State coach Gig Leadbetter said. “It was pretty slick, but she ran a good race. We looked at it and compared it to some of her previous times against people she ran against and she was happy.”
Skarda went out with the front pack, but Neely Spence of Shippensburg and Sarah Porter of Western Washington separated themselves midway through the 6-kilometer race. Spence, a junior, won in 20:41.2, with Porter, a senior, finishing second in 20:56.1.
Skarda was in the next pack of runners, which was led by Western State’s Lauren Kleppin, who finished third in 21:04.5. Adams State’s Kristen McGlynn finished sixth (21:16.3).
“It was snowing, drizzly snow, slush,” Leadbetter said. “It was very muddy. The men ran first and churned it up. It was real uneven footing, and I think that bugged her more than anything else. It was soft and chewed up.”
Grand Valley State placed all five runners in the top 20 to cruise to the team title with 66 points. Western State was second with 95 and Adams State third with 98. It was the first time since the RMAC joined Division II in 1992 a conference school didn’t win the women’s title.
Adams State ran away with its third straight men’s championship, beating Western State by 45 points.
Skarda will take a couple of weeks off before turning her attention to indoor track. She has one more shot at a national cross country title.
“I think she’s a little disappointed, like all competitors,” Leadbetter said. “You learn something from every race you run, and she’s not gonna forget it. She’ll get tougher next year.”
Mesa State lost a 13-point lead and its second straight RMAC game on the road, 73-65 at Nebraska-Kearney.
The Mavericks led 30-17 after a dunk by Nate Nelson with 6:30 to play in the first half, but the Lopers had whittled that to five by halftime, 43-38, and took the lead with 5:34 to play on a pair of free throws by Max Froehlich, who went 10 of 11 from the line.
That capped a 26-8 run that spanned the two halves. In that time, the Mavericks committed 15 turnovers.
Drew Sankey scored 16 points to lead the Lopers, Froehlich added 14 and Akeem Morrissaint 12.
Colton Burgon had 14 points off the bench for the Mavericks, who got 13 from Russell Gregory, 12 from Kalonji Paschal and 10 from Michael Bear.
Kearney won the game at the free-throw line, making 25 of 32. The Mavs made 12 of 18.
The Mavericks were in the game late, trailing Nebraska-Kearney by five with 3:41 to play.
The Lopers, though, hit a pair of free throws and Kim Rickels got a steal that led to a layup by Nicole Arp as Kearney pulled away for a 79-68 victory.
Kearney outscored Mesa State 44-32 in the paint and beat the Mavs on the boards 48-37.
Megan Becker was too much for the Mavericks, scoring 23 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, one of two Lopers to record a double-double. Vanessa Leeper had 12 points and a dozen rebounds.
Katie Brady led Mesa State (4-2, 1-1 RMAC) with 14 points. Katrina Selsor added 11 and Kelsey Sigl 10.
Mesa State won three event finals on the first day of the Mesa State Invitational at El Pomar Natatorium and leads both the men’s and women’s team standings.
Kelly Hogan won the women’s 500-yard freestyle in 5 minutes, 18.08 seconds, setting a pool record, and Jaclyn McMillen won the women’s 50 backstroke in 28.44.
Kent Stavrakas won the men’s 100 freestyle in 47.84. The men’s team had 689 points heading into today’s portion of the meet, with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 3 p.m. The women’s team has 576 points after the first day.