MELBOURNE, Fla. – Saint Leo women's cross country regained the Sunshine State Conference crown it first won in 2014, dominating a field of eight teams to win the 2016 SSC Women's Cross Country Championship at Saturday's conference meet at Wickham Park.
The Lions recorded four runners among the top eight finishers, and tallied a mere 28 points in the team standings. The University of Tampa was a distant second place with 55 points, despite having all five runners among the top 15.
Florida Southern was even further off the pace with 102 points for a third-place finish, followed by Palm Beach Atlantic (105 pts.), Florida Tech (121 pts.), Nova Southeastern (132 pts.), Lynn (172 pts.), and Rollins (260 pts.).
Junior Colett Rampf claimed her third straight SSC women's cross country individual championship, completing the 6K course in 20:26.67. She crossed the finish line nearly 39 seconds ahead of teammate Alyssa Bayliff, who placed second in a time of 21:05.64.
Rampf was challenged for much of the first loop of Wickham Park by Tampa's Claudia Cancello, who finished third with a time of 21:13.50.
Rampf's individual title was the fourth by a Saint Leo runner over the past six seasons. In addition to Rampf's three-straight conference crowns, Tereza Novotna captured SSC individual honors in 2011.
Sophomore Laura Tobin was fifth with a time of 21:26.28, while junior Lauren Csubak was eighth and posted a mark of 22:03.22. Senior Natalie McCormick was the Lions fifth scoring runner, placing 12th in the final results with a time of 22:14.24.
Sophomore Noemi Anaya (25th overall/24th in points, 22:59.90) and junior Haley Roussell (36th overall/32nd in points, 23:24.74) were the pushers for Saint Leo.
"This is a special group of ladies who all have a common goal to achieve excellence," said Kent Reiber, Saint Leo head women's cross country coach. "We controlled the race early and fough for our spots in the back half of the race. I'm so proud of their dedication to our plan, and for some of them this is a huge turnaround from last year."
"We know that the sky is the limit for this group, and that's where we're aiming," added Reiber.
Saint Leo freshman Fatima Abu-Rumman finished 37th overall, immediately behind Roussell, with a time of 23:27.68. Senior Tiffany Gargiulo posted a time of 23:53.84 to place 40th, with sophomore Heidi Churchill crossing the line in a time of 24:25.87 in 51st place.
The Saint Leo women's cross country team now advances to the NCAA South Region Cross Country Championship, which will be hosted by Saint Leo University at The Abbey Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 5.
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