HAMMOND – McNeese’s Gideon Cheplak finished second at the 2020 Southland Conference Cross Country Championships here Sunday morning to pace the Cowboys to a sixth-place team finish with his time in the 8k race of 23:26.55 setting a new school record, besting the time of 23:33 by David Rooney in 2012.
However, this year’s running track was entirely on pavement so both times will be listed in the McNeese record book.
In addition, Cheplak was named the SLC’s Newcomer of the Year as well as earning All-SLC first-team honors. Teammate Henry Kiplagat placed 14th which earned him All-SLC third-team accolades.
On the women’s side, the Cowgirls finished sixth in the team rankings and were paced by Aurelia Jepkorir, who finished 12th, and Bonnie Andres with a 15th place finish. Both runners were named third-team All-SLC.
“I’m very proud of our runners considering this was our first race of the season and only having them back on campus this semester,” said head coach Brendon Gilroy. “They all competed hard and that’s what we asked of them.”
Cheplak trailed only Southeastern Louisiana’s Shea Foster who ran a 22:41.16. Kiplagat ran a 24:21.03, finishing just 18 seconds out of the top 10. Other Cowboy finishers included Joey Croft (27th, 25:04.00), Aaron Gilliam (38th, 25:31.95), Elias Loriposa (46th, 25:52.16), Markus Kopp (50th, 26.11.46), and Fred Chepyegon (71st, 27:25.06).
SLU won the men’s team title with 35 points followed by Stephen F. Austin with 102, Lamar 111, New Orleans 113, Central Arkansas 121, McNeese 127, A&M-Corpus Christi 199, Abilene Christian 200, Sam Houston 206, Incarnate Word 210, HBU 237, and Nicholls 340.
For the Cowgirls, Jepkorir clocked a 21:45.10 in the 6k race and missing out on a top 10 finish by 11 seconds. Andres finished with a time of 21:54.71. Other Cowgirl finishers included Pamela Kosgei (25th, 22:23.09), Alissa Lander (34th, 22:52.47), Nele Siebert (51st, 23:46.57) and Ciara Gilroy (52nd, 23:48.03).
Central Arkansas won the women’s title with 86 points followed by Abilene Christian with 89, Stephen F. Austin 96, New Orleans 112, Incarnate Word 132, McNeese 137, A&M-Corpus Christi 157, Nicholls 204, SLU 216, Sam Houston 222, HBU 262, Lamar 276.