Alabama State Women finish as runner-up, Men ninth at SWAC Championships

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CLINTON, Miss. | Alabama State placed three runners in the top 15 of the 2021 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) cross country championships on Monday, but it wasn’t enough as Alcorn State placed four in the top 10 to capture the championship.

Alabama State finished second overall with 77 total points, finishing just nine points behind the Lady Braves and 11 points ahead of Grambling State in third place.

“I am extremely proud of the way the ladies fought throughout the competition,” head coach Ritchie Beene said. “Everyone ran faster and had season-bests, the chips just didn’t fall our way. Hats off to Alcorn State who had a well-executed plan.”

Shamia Jones (Albany, Ga.), an all-conference performer, finished sixth with a time of 19:32.26, two seconds ahead of her fastest 5k time of the season to lead Alabama State. She was followed by Rebecca Bernadia (Turks and Caicos Island) with a time of 19:42.94 – a full minute ahead of her season-best time – earned all-conference honors.

Vinnelle Grant (Amityville, N.Y.) finished 13th overall in a time of 19:56.33, four seconds faster than her previous best, while Morgan O’Neal (Sylacauga, Ala.) finished in a time of 20:35.03. The final two runners for the Lady Hornets, Jamila Thomas (Lewisville, Texas) and Penina Chelangat (Eldoret, Kenya), finished in times of 20:51.26 and 20:56.95 respectively.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Alabama State was led by Matthew Kibet (Eldoret, Kenya) who crossed the line in a time of 28:03.50, 23 seconds faster than his previous season-best time in the 8k, to finish 25th overall. He was followed by Ricky Thornton (Indianapolis, Ind.) in 39th place with a time of 29:48.24 – nearly 45 seconds better than his 8k time this season.

Kamari Garcon (Ocoee, Fla.) finished 45th overall in a time of 31:35.85, while Preston Walton (Jonesboro, Ga.) crossed in a time of 32:43.46 to finish 49th overall. Lovensky Demelien (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)  rounded out the field for Alabama State with a time of 35:29.85.

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