By Amber Kuehn, Helena IR
Many runners can only dream of getting to race at a national meet, let alone turn in one of their best performances against the country’s top competition. But Carroll College freshman Leah Esposito did just that Saturday, exceeding expectations with a seventh-place overall finish individually. It was the best a Saints’ woman has ever done at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, and the Helena native was ecstatic.
“It felt really good; I definitely wasn’t expecting to place that high,” said Esposito, who finished in 18 minutes, 5.52 seconds – one second out of sixth place. “I’m completely blown away by how good I did. That was one of the best races I’ve ever run.”
The Carroll women finished 11th overall, six spots lower than last year. But the Saints were an inexperienced team loaded with freshmen, and only one runner had ever competed at a national meet before.
HELENA – Seniors Lyle Pocha (Missoula, MT) and Troy Solly (Issaquah, WA) from the Carroll College men’s cross country team, as well as junior Regan Bold (Winifred, MT) from the women’s squad, were all named 2013 Daktronics- NAIA Scholar-Athletes on Friday by the national office.
The three Fighting Saints student-athletes were among 295 student-athletes nationwide to receive the honor. In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and have at least junior academic status.
The Carroll College women’s team and two runners from the men’s team (Sancho Ridesatthedoor and Chase Constantine) will be competing at the NAIA National Championships on Saturday at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan.
By Amber Kuehn (Independent Record)
High expectations are nothing new for Leah Esposito. But even she didn’t expect to do this well.
The Carroll College freshman runner and Helena native is preparing for the NAIA Cross Country National Championships just five months removed from graduating high school. She was named the Frontier Conference Runner of the Week five times this fall. She posted five top-10 finishes in six meets.
“I wanted to improve on my high school season, but I definitely didn’t expect to have this much success,” said Esposito, who will also run track for the Saints. “I thought maybe I’d be middle of the pack, somewhere in the middle of all the athletes. It was a surprise.”
Photo right: Leah Esposito (Gary Marshall, Blackfoot Media)
By Amber Kuehn, Helena IR
The Carroll College women’s cross country team will look to improve on its best finish in school history Saturday when the Saints compete at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships in Lawrence, Kan. Carroll took fifth place a year ago, something that had never before been accomplished by the program. Although the Saints are without their two All-Americans from last season, first-year coach David Morris believes they have a shot at another strong finish.
“I think we have a chance to do really well based on how the team did last year,” he said. “We could possibly be top 5, definitely top 15 ... it will just depend on how they run as individuals.”
Carroll, which received an at-large berth to the 32-team field — is led by freshman Leah Esposito, who finished second at the Frontier Conference Championships.
By the Helena IR
The Carroll College men’s cross country team just missed out on a berth to the NAIA National Championships when the field was announced Monday.
But the Saints will still be well represented in Lawrence, Kan., with the women’s team making the 32-team field as an at-large bid and senior Sancho Ridesatthedoor and sophomore Chase Constantine going as individual qualifiers. Both Ridesatthedoor and Constantine were also named to the all-conference team, which was released Monday. Freshman Leah Esposito — a Helena native who garnered five league runner of the week honors this year — was also named all-conference, alongside teammates Olivia Wood, Regan Bold, Hannah Hafner and Macala Fifield.
By MEGAN LOBDELL Big Sky Conference
He won the NCAA title in the 3,000 meters and was the second Big Sky athlete to win the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at the conference outdoor championship.
He is an eight-time Big Sky Champion, winning from 1989-93. That is why Carroll College cross country and distance coach David Morris ranks 33rd on the Big Sky’s list of 50 Greatest Male Athletes, a listing released Thursday.
“That is an incredible honor,” said Morris. “There are so many great athletes that have competed in the Big Sky Conference that it’s hard to believe I deserve it. To be included with the best men ever to compete in the Big Sky Conference is amazing. It’s probably the highest honor I’ve received.”
By Troy Shockley, Helena IR
It was a day of near-misses for Carroll at the Frontier Conference Cross Country Championships on Friday, where Lewis-Clark State College claimed both the men’s and women’s team titles. LCSC also took both of the individual titles, running on its home course in Lewiston, Idaho.
Carroll’s women finished second, just four points back, 29-35. The Saints were led by Leah Esposito, who finished second to Alyssa Rapovy. The Carroll men finished in a tie for third with Dickinson State, with Rocky edging the team for second by just two points, 66-68. Senior Sancho Ridesatthedoor led the way for the men’s team with a fifth-place finish.
With their victories, the Warriors are guaranteed spots in the upcoming NAIA National Championship meets. The men would likely have made the field anyway, as they entered Friday’s meet ranked third in the country.
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