Lamar Loop: LU dominant at SLC Cross Country championships

Lamar Loop: LU dominant at SLC Cross Country championships

Both Sam Stabler and Mittu Hukka downed league records, claimed individual championships and led the Lamar cross country teams to a sweep of the 2014 Southland Conference Cross Championships for the second straight year on Nov. 3 at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex in Natchitoches, La.

“We’re really proud of both groups. I think we did a really good job of competing,” said cross country coach Darren Gauson. “We were the defending champion, so we knew we’d have the target on our backs. We came out to win on both sides and we were able to do that today. It was very nice to pick up the two individual championships, too.” Lamar’s men put up a score of 26 points, the same score as 2013, to win their eighth title in the last nine years. The women won their race with 20 points scored, best mark in Southland Conference history.

Stabler set the 8,000-meter record with a 23:29.1 time and led a Lamar group that finished with four Cardinals in the top six and five in the top 10. The next closet time to Stabler was over 13 seconds behind in Stephen F. Austin’s Charles Mathenge.

Stabler’s mark bested a time of 23:33 held by David Rooney of McNeese State, set in 2012.

Alex Dunbar put up a time of 23:56.9 to grab fourth place, Michael Kershaw crossed in fifth with a 24.12.0 time, and Jan Lukas Becker was in sixth place with a 24:12.9 mark. Ryan Creech, who battled a foot injury throughout the race, finished in 10th place with a 24:25.4 mark.

For the women, Hukka put up a blistering time of 20:06.6 in the 6,000-meter race followed by Leigh Lattimore in second place with a 20:44.3 time, Jannika John’s 20:49.6 mark placed her third and Verity Ockenden finished in fourth place with a 20:54.5 time.

Hukka’s time broke the previous record of 20:24.7 held by Lamar’s own Ashley Monteau, set in 2004.

“We have a very strong team. So it’s very good to be able to train with these girls,” said Hukka. “We work out together and have a little competition with each other, so it is very good for everyone. (Both teams) are like a big family, and we cheer on each other. The guys were very good as well. Of course we tell ourselves we had to win because the guys did, but it’s more of everyone just cheering each other on.”

Stabler was the second individual champion in as many years for Lamar after Matt Johnsen claimed the prize last season. Dunbar and Kershaw joined the Leicester, England, native as first-team All-Southland Conference members. Stabler’s championship gave Lamar the eighth individual SLC champion in school history, which tops the league.

It was the Lady Cardinals’ first individual championship since Clerc Koenck claimed the honor in 2006 and 2007. Lattiemore, John and Ockenden joined Hukka, a native of Kotka, Finland, as first team all-conference honorees.

The sweep of both team championships gave Lamar back-to-back sweeps after 2013’s victory, which is the first time a program has swept two year’s straight since Stephen F. Austin did it in 2002 and 2003. It was the 13th overall conference championship for the men’s side and fifth for the women.

Next up for the Lamar will be the NCAA South Central Regionals, held at the University of Arkansas on Nov. 14.

“With us ranked third in the regional, we are trying to do everything we can to get into the top two in the region,” said Gauson. “Really it will be about recovery and just sharping them up a little bit between now and then.”

Football

Senior receiver Mark Roberts and sophomore kicker Juan Carranco have been named Southland Conference Players of the Week after the Cardinals throttled visiting Houston Baptist last Saturday, 72-14, for Homecoming.

Roberts, who prepped at West Orange-Stark, posted one of the best nights for a receiver in Lamar history. Despite playing only two quarters due to a comfortable 42-0 lead, Roberts had five catches for 205 yards and four touchdowns to become the school’s all-time leader in touchdown catches.

Carranco is proving to be one of the more consistent kickers in the Southland. Just a couple weeks after being named National Special Teams Player of the Week, Carranco earns the league’s weekly superlative. He converted on his only field goal attempt, which was good from 43 yards out, while connecting on 9 of 10 extra point attempts. Lamar (6-3, 3-2 SLC) will return to action Saturday, Nov. 8, when they travel to Conway, Ark., to take on Central Arkansas (5-5, 4-2). The game against the Bears is slated to begin at 3 p.m. from Estes Stadium. The Cards are 0-3 all-time against UCA.

Soccer

Senior Kimmy Albeno scored two goals and assisted on another as the Lamar Lady Cardinals closed out their season with a 4-1 win over visiting Central Arkansas in a Southland Conference women’s soccer game on Oct. 31.

Albeno helped make Senior Night special for herself and five other Lady Cardinals playing their final game in a Lamar uniform. She closed her Lamar career with all-time LU records for goals (34) and points (78).

Senior Bailey Fontenot made three saves to surpass Jennifer Gibbs at the top of the career saves list with 328. Her 22nd win tied Gibbs for the most in Lamar history.

Senior Kristin Bos added a goal for Lamar (5-11-2 overall. 3-6-2 Southland), while senior Taylor Mitchell led Lamar with four shots on goal. Seniors Nicole Frank and Alejandra Amador each played all 90 minutes to anchor the Lamar defense.

“I’m going to miss all of them,” said Lamar coach Orlando Cervantes, who picked up his 23rd win at LU to surpass Dewi Hardman at the top of the all-time list. “Not only as soccer players, but as people. They are just tremendous to be around.”

Volleyball

The Lady Cards will host New Orleans on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. then will return to the home court on Saturday, Nov. 8 to play New Orleans at 7 p.m.

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