By Dave Wagner
Karissa Huskey had just finished running the race of her life, and she looked like she was ready to go again.
Huskey placed fifth overall with a time of 23:44.6 over 6 kilometers to lead Eastern New Mexico University’s women to a fifth-place team finish in the Lone Star Conference cross country meet on Saturday at Portales Country Club. ENMU’s men were also fifth.
Abilene Christian captured both team crowns. The Wildcats won their 13th consecutive men’s team championship with 36 points to 53 for runnerup East Central, while the ACU women compiled 33 team points — 32 ahead of Angelo State — in taking their third consecutive LSC crown.
ENMU’s women finished with 124 points while the men had 112.
Even Huskey was surprised by her finish.
“I had a good start, and I knew I had to stay up there (with the leaders),” said the junior from Weeping Water, Neb. “We definitely had the home-course advantage today. This was definitely my best race of the year.”
ENMU coach Greg LaSage said he thought Huskey could finish in the top 10.
“We knew if she ran hard and remained focused, she’d have a chance,” he said. “It’s her best performance, both mentally and physically.”
ACU swept the top three places, led by Yuliya Stashkiv, a sophomore from The Ukraine who had a time of 22:48.8.
“I was very happy with the way the girls performed,” said ACU coach Jon Murray. “I wasn’t sure how the girls would do; we’d had some injuries lately.”
The Zias were shooting for a top-half finish in the team standings, which they accomplished. Senior Leora Todacheenie was ENMU’s No. 2 runner, finishing 13th in 24:42.3.
Huskey seemed unfazed by the cool, brisk conditions.
“I’m used to running in weather like that,” she said. “And we practice at 5:30 (a.m.), so nothing is really cold.”
Freshman Ricardo Hernandez led the ENMU men, just missing out on all-conference honors (top 10) by placing 11th in 27:08.8 over 8K.
“I knew he had a chance at the top 10,” LaSage said. “I know he’s disappointed in his performance, but he’s had some (asthma-related) problems over the last couple of weeks.”
ACU’s men had three of the top four runners and fought off a bit of a challenge from East Central, which put three runners in the top seven. Abilene Christian junior Bernard Manirakiza, one of three Wildcats from the country of Burundi, won in 25:03.2.
Sophomore Orlando Sanchez finished 16th for the Greyhounds, while senior Jerry Macias came in 24th.
“Orlando Sanchez and Jerry Macias ran really well, and Adam (Miller, 30th) and Lee (Garrison, 31st) really pushed each other,” LaSage said. “I think our men had to run well to finish where they did. The teams that beat us are all ranked in the top 10 in the region.”