Laker women’s cross country win 2012 PBC Cross Country Championship
Montevallo, AL, – Mission Accomplished … After finishing second four times in the program's 17-year history of running in the Peach Belt Conference meet, the 2012 Clayton State women's cross country team was able to achieve a feat that no other Laker women's cross country team has ever managed.
The Lakers won their first Peach Belt Conference Championship in women's cross country Saturday at the meet held on the campus of Montevallo in Alabama. Clayton State has now won a Peach Belt Conference Championship in every sport in the league.
"We finally won a Peach Belt Conference title and it sure feels great," said head coach Mike Mead. "These ladies worked hard this summer and this season to earn the program its first conference title. It was touch and go mid‐race, but it came together in the last 1K where it mattered. We set a team record with our Top 5 averaging 23:27 per runner for 6K."
The Lakers finished with a meet low 63 points ahead of rival Columbus State, who finished second with 70 points. UNC Pembroke placed third with 103 points, followed by Montevallo in fourth with 113 points and Georgia College rounding out the top five with 148 points.
"Our Top 3 of (Racquel) Valadez, (Samantha) Walling, and Paige Galvin finished in the Top seven for first team All‐PBC honors," said Mead. "Jessica Smith and (Maia) Kuhnen locked it up by placing in the Top 25, while Taylor Galvin and (Gisele) Javois were right there with Kuhnen at the finish for Top 30 finishes."
Along with Valadez, Walling and Galvin being named All-Conference, Mead was named conference "Coach of the Year" for the sixth time in his career.
Clayton State sophomore Racquel Valadez led the way for the team, finishing third in the meet with a time of 22:51, the 13th fastest 6K in Laker history. Valadez was only 15 seconds off the winning time of Livia Mahaffie of UNC Pembroke.
"Racquel ran a superb race, moving up from about 16th at the mile mark to 3rd overall," said Mead.
Behind Valadez, junior Samantha Walling finished sixth in the race with a time of 23:05. Walling passed a number of runners in the last half of the race to earn All-Conference honors for the second year in a row and to help lead the Lakers to the title. Her time is the 17th best on the All-time Clayton State 6K list.
Senior Paige Galvin also delivered when it mattered most, also earning All-Conference honors for the second time. She finished with a time of 23:07 for a seventh place finish, her highest finish in a league meet.
Battling an injury, sophomore Jessica Smith finished 22nd with a time of 23:59 and sophomore Maia Kuhnen rounded out the scoring for Clayton State placing 25th with a personal best time of 24:12.
"Jess ran a gutsy race considering the physical setbacks coming back from an injury that kept her out of making All‐PBC again this year," said Mead. "She's a key to our region success in two weeks."
Freshman Taylor Galvin and junior Gisele both had a personal best time of 24:13 to finish 27th and 28th in the meet. Sophomore Holly McNorton placed 55th with a season best time of 26:09, followed by sophomore Kendra Wilson finishing 59th with a time of 26:34.
Clayton State will take off next week before returning to action on Saturday, November 3rd in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, NC.