FORT BENNING, GA – The Peach Belt Conference will hold its 27th Cross Country Championships this Saturday on the base of Fort Benning, Ga. Columbus State University will host the event for the third time, the first since 2006. The championship will be contested over a 5k course, the first time the PBC has held a 5k in the championship since 2008.
The women will run first on Saturday morning at 9:00 am, the men will follow at 10:15. Admittance to the race is free, but those wishing to attend need to allow time to pass through security at Fort Benning. More information about gaining access to the base, directions and maps can be found here.
After finishing in second place in the last three PBC meets, the North Georgia Nighthawks stand ready to claim their first PBC title. UNG has won all four races they have run this season, including the Cougar Invitational at Fort Benning on Sept. 23. Senior Brittany Truitt has the opportunity to become only the 11th women's cross country runner to be named PBC All-Conference for the fourth time; she ran the fastest 5k in the Peach Belt in 17:55.1 at the UNG Invitational and has not finished lower than third in any race. Makayla Ellis was the second Nighthawk across the line in their most recent outing while Olivia Terwilliger has four top-10s. Jenna Sanborn and Kenedi Rodney were in the top five at the CSU Invitational.
Augusta will also be in search of their first women's XC title on Saturday. The Jaguars have finished first or second in all four regular-season runs and ranked sixth in the latest region poll. Augusta won their own Jaguar Invitational and were second at the Bobcat Invitational. Senior Lara Way finished in fifth at the Bobcat while freshman Micah Weathers was sixth at the Bulldog Stampede.
Georgia College has finished in second or third in all four regular-season events. The Bobcats will also be searching for their first PBC title and will look to senior Katherine Yost to set the pace. A two-time PBC Runner of the Week, Yost has the top two 6k times in the Peach Belt this season and the second-fastest 5k time. Tessa Allen ran her fastest 6k of the season in GC's last event and was the second Bobcat across the line. Gracy Lynch has finished in the team's top three in their last three events.
Flagler has finished in the top five of every regular-season race and were second at the Furman/ Gene Mullin Invitational and third at Florida Tech. Junior Heloise Duffie de Tassigny has run three 5k races this year and the three times are among the top nine fastest in the league this year. She has two second-place finishes and one eighth-place finish and has only finished behind one other DII runner. Junior Lauren Pankala ran a sub-19 at the Florida Mountain Dew Invitational and has two of the 16 fastest 5k times in the league.
UNC Pembroke finished second at the Queens Twilight and were fifth at Florida State. The Braves have also finished in the top five at the PBC Championships for the last seven years in a row. Freshman Molly McCann won the season-opening Elon Invitational and was second in her next three races. Freshman Corey Pethers won the Royals Challenge and was second at Elon. Sophomore Michaela Reynolds has not finished outside of the top five this season and won at Florida State in her most recent outing.
Clayton State finished in second place at the Jaguar Invitational and the Cougar Invitational at Fort Benning. Lakers junior Carla Catala Martin has been the top finisher at all four events this year, coming in second at the Cougar Invitational with the fifth-fastest 5k time in the PBC this year. Lynnet Kosgei has been second across the line for the team at each event, finishing sixth at the Jaguar Invite.
Host Columbus State will be looking for their first championship in seven years after completing a run of six straight titles from 2005-10. The Cougars have a pair of top-four finishes this season including third at the Cougar Invitational at Fort Benning and fourth at the JSU Struts Season Opener. Freshman Alli Hay has been the top Cougar in all four regular-season meets, finishing sixth at the Cougar Invite in 18:58, among the top 20-fastest 5k times in the league.
Francis Marion began the 2017 season with a victory at the Carolina Challenge and were fourth at the Koala Classic, their most recent run. Sophomore Alison Filer has been the top Patriot finisher at all four events, coming in second at the Carolina Challenge.
Georgia Southwestern finished third at the Middle Georgia State Invitational and were sixth at the Cougar Invitational. Ashleigh Owens has led the Hurricanes in all four events, finishing second at Middle Georgia and 12th at the Cougar Invite.
USC Aiken was third at their own Pacer Invitational and fourth at the S.C. State Invitational. Junior Bethany Fordham has been the top Pacer in each race, finishing seventh at S.C. State and 14th at the Jaguar Invitational.
Lander returned to the cross country course this season for the first time since 2008. The Bearcats have run partial teams at several events, but did finish in 10th place at the Koala Classic in their last outing. Freshman Catey Rithianos has been the first Bearcat across the line in five events this year.
The PBC will provide a live video feed from the championships. To watch, please visit our YouTube channel here.