Cross-Country

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Six members of the Carroll men’s cross country team and three from the women’s team were named to the Frontier Conference’s All-Academic team.

The six Fighting Saints men selected were seniors Dennis Leigh (civil engineering), Lyle Pocha (chemistry), Troy Solly (civil engineering), junior Kyle Willis (secondary education-mathematics) and sophomores Connor Garcia (communications) and Alex Ramm-Hutchison (biology). From the women’s team, senior Rhianna Grossman (education) and juniors Regan Bold (health cciences) and Hannah Hafner (biology) were selected All-Academic Frontier Conference.

To be eligible for the Academic All-Conference team, student-athletes must be at least a sophomore in academic standing, maintain a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled at school the previous two semesters.

The Carroll College women’s cross country team qualified for the NAIA national meet, and the men’s team placed two individuals in the field for nationals.

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.

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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.

Leah EspositoBy 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)

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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