By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
BLACKWATER DRAW — Eastern New Mexico University’s cross country teams knew their chances of winning Lone Star Conference championships on Saturday were slim, but they’ll take what they got.
ENMU’s men, the two-time defending LSC champions, put three runners in the top 15, good for all-confrerence honors, en route to a second-place team finish with 67 points. The women, meantime, had two all-conference performers and posted an all-time best fourth-place finish with 83 points.
West Texas A&M ran away with both divisions, putting five runners in the top eight en route to a score of 22 points on the men’s side and six in the top 15 for 35 points in women’s competition and a 20-point margin over runnerup Tarleton State.
“This is the year WT needed to win it,” ENMU coach Mike Barbee said. “They were a very good team on both sides.
“I think we ran about what we expected. We really had some guys step up, and I don’t think the girls had a bad race at all.”
Individual winners were WT’s Dylan Doss with an 8K time of 25 minutes, 18.3 seconds for the men, and Tarleton State’s Lindsey Hinton with a 6K mark of 22:14.4 for the women.
Juniors Kaspars Briska and Mikey Davila ran 5-6 for the Greyhounds with times of 25:54.3 and 25.55.1, respectively, while junior Trevor Merhege was 11th in 26:16.3 in only his second race of the fall due to a knee problem.
“I was a little too excited,” said Merhege, a graduate of Santa Fe Indian School. “I got out a little too fast, but I still felt I ran a good race.”
The Zias, meantime, fell six points short of third-place Midwestern State. Sophomore Bayleigh Baker was eighth for ENMU in a season-best 22:56.8, while sophomore Amber Saiz came in 14th in 23:31.8.
Baker said she changed her approach from previous races, opting to stay with the lead pack and not worry about how others were doing.
“I actually did much better than I thought I would,” said Baker, from Albuquerque. “We all put in our best effort. All the girls pushed hard today.”
She said it was the first time she’s been the Zias’ No. 1 finisher.
“I think I just decided to do something out of the ordinary, and it worked out,” she said of going out fast.
The runners started outside Greyhound Stadium and finished inside the field. It’s the first time ENMU has hosted the conference meet since 2003.
“The (ENMU) grounds department did a fantastic job of getting the course ready,” Barbee said.
ENMU is scheduled to compete in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional, to be hosted by WT on Nov. 9 at Canyon, Texas.
At Blackwater Draw
Team standings: 1. West Texas A&M 22; 2. Eastern New Mexico 67; 3. Texas A&M-Commerce 88; 4. Cameron 108; 5. Tarleton State 119; 6. Angelo State 125; 7. Texas A&M-Kingsville 191.
Individual winner (55 runners): Dylan Doss, West Texas A&M 25:18.3.
ENMU results: 5. Kaspers Briska 25:54.3; 6. Mikey Davila 25:55.1; 11. Trevor Merhege 26:16.3; 23. Justin Samaniego 26:51.3; 28. Joseph Metcalf 27:08.9; 29. Mason Thomas 27:19.6; 30. Chase Beausoleil 27:24.5; 37. Zach Walling 28:06.7; 45. Baron Barber 29:01.7; 48. Scott Wesselink 29:19.3.
Team standings: 1. West Texas A&M 35; 2. Tarleton State 55; 3. Midwestern State 77; 4. Eastern New Mexico 83; 5. Texas A&M-Commerce 133; 6. Angelo State 137; 7. Texas A&M-Kingsville 198.
Individual winner (53 runners): Lindsey Hinton, Tarleton State 22:14.4.
ENMU results: 8. Bayleigh Baker 22:56.8; 14. Amber Saiz 23:31.8; 17. Alesha Jones 23:38.1; 20. Brittany Buchanan 23:50.8; 24. Sabrina Huelga 24:17.2; 26. Beth Blind 24:27.4; 51. Sarah Bertram 28:53.9.