Elgin punches his ticket to Nationals

Southwestern College junior and former Cowley College runner Messi Elgin qualified for the NAIA National Championships with a 12th-place finish Saturday at the KCAC Championships in Salina.

SALINA — Southwestern College junior Messi Elgin qualified for the NAIA National Championships next spring by finishing in 12th place Saturday at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships at the GreatLIFE Golf Course.

Elgin completed the race in 28 minutes, 4.6 seconds.

“The KCAC Championships hosted this past weekend by Kansas Wesleyan was one of the most challenging courses I’ve seen in the state of Kansas, let alone by a conference team,” SC coach Garrett Young said. “The course was humbling and frankly, we probably did not go in fully prepared as a team — but it’s difficult to find a comparable course here in the state to have used as a simulation.”

The Southwestern men finished 10th with 237 points. Saint Mary easily won the title ahead of runner-up Friends. Tabor and Kansas Wesleyan tied for third.

Junior Peyton Wardell placed 66th (31:56.9), freshman Brian Jinanwa was 69th and freshman Raul Orozco finished 72nd.

“Our men struggled a bit as a team because we had a number of runners in and out of quarantine in the week leading into Conference due to COVID precautions,” Young said.

The Lady Builders finished eighth. Saint Mary swept the team titles and Friends was runner-up in both races, with the Kansas Wesleyan women third.

“Our No. 3 was in quarantine for the meet, which hurt us quite a bit,” Young said. “We only had one senior on the women’s side, so the group is obviously very young and this was a good learning experience for the entire team.”

Sophomore Daegiona Wilson finished in 31st place (22:10.8), missing the top 30 by three seconds. Junior Kacie Lancaster was 39th (22:41.1).

“I think the team as a whole is looking forward to the track season,” Young said. “We are trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy. We obviously don’t want to use COVID as an excuse, but I don’t think it would be fair to say it didn’t have any impact on the training this summer and throughout the course of the season.”

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