HATTIESBURG, Miss. (SMU) – The SMU Mustangs knew this season would be a challenge with so much youth and such little experience. The team still set its sights high, aiming for a fourth Conference USA title in five years. SMU did just that, coasting to a 19-point victory over second-place Tulsa on Monday morning.
Fittingly, SMU’s lone senior Mary Alenbratt led paced the Mustangs and finished in second overall, posting a career-best 5K time of 16:53.0.
“She’s a really consistent racer,” Coach Cathy Casey said of Alenbratt. “Every race she’s gotten better. She knows how important (the C-USA meet) is and she used her experience to lead the team.”
Ashlee Powers took Freshman of the Meet honors, crossing the line in 17:03.9. Both Powers and Alenbratt earned First Team All-C-USA honors for finishing in the top-seven. Three Mustangs took Second Team All-C-USA nods; Karoline Skatteboe finished eighth, Shenoah Souza placed 10th with a personal-best 17:27.4, and Caitlin Keen took 14th with a personal-best 17:38.8.
“They ran a really smart race,” Casey said of her team. “It was a hilly, tough course. We focused on the last half of the race, which has been our goal all season long. Tulsa also ran a great race. It was challenging to beat them.”
Casey also earned Coach of the Year honors in the C-USA. Casey led a young but talented team to the pinnacle of the conference. Three of SMU’s top-five runners on Monday are freshmen.
Tulsa finished second, followed East Carolina and Rice and UAB tied for fourth. UTEP’s Risper Kimaiyo took first place and Individual Medalist honors with a 16:42.8.
SMU will now head to the NCAA South Central Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 9.