Lady Cougar Runners Win Conference Crown

LUMBERTON, N.C. -- Columbus State placed three runners among the top 11 women here Saturday morning and raced to the 2005 Peach Belt Conference championship -- a first for any CSU cross-country team.

In the men's race, the favored Cougars finished a somewhat disappointing third.

Janet Chepkonga, as she has done all season, paced the Lady Cougar squad and finished second overall. She posted a time of 18:07 to finish 14 seconds behind individual champion Irina Watkins of North Georgia. Isabel Zamora (19:11) finished fourth, and freshman Andrea Lewallen (20:35) finished 11th. All three runners earned All-PBC honors by virtue of their finish among the top 13 runners.

Michelle Keltz (21:07) was 17th, Eunic Mutwol (21:30) 23rd, Shannon Ferguson (22:21) 33rd, and Danielle Reid (22:59) 41st to round out the CSU team. The Lady Cougars posted a team total of 57 points to finish 24 points ahead of host UNC Pembrok at 81. Clayton State was third at 86, Lander fourth at 89, and USC Aiken fifth at 123. Augusta State, North Georgia, GC & SU, and Francis Marion rounded out the team standings.

In the men's race, CSU was challenging for a win until Cedric Harris dropped out of the race and failed to post a score. The team ended up third by one point with a total of 50 points. Heavily favored Moses Kosgei ended up second in the individual standings, falling by 11 seconds to Clayton State's Bobby Valdez. Kosgei posted a time of 25:10. Adam Pugh also posted a strong finish, coming in fourth with a time of 25:45. Kosgei and Pugh earned All-PBC honors by finishing in the top eight.

Edwin Koech finished ninth with a time of 27:09, missing All-PBC honors by one position. Justin Haynes (28:12) was 17th, Ben Jones (28:20) 18th, and Matt Crippen 33rd to round out the CSU finishers.

Clayton State won with a team total of 31, while host UNC-Pembroke took second with 49. GC & SU was fourth with 98, followed by North Georgia and Francis Marion.

Clayton State's Mike Mead was named men's Coach of the Year, while UNC Pembroke's Larry Rogers was honored as women's Coach of the Year.

CSU will now return home in preparation for the NCAA Southeast Regional to be held on Saturday, November 5, in Dade City, Fla.