Sports Writer: Luke Tucker
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wingate University’s men’s cross-country team claimed its first South Atlantic Conference championship this past weekend at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte. The Bulldogs dominated the meet, placing eight runners in the top 11.
Wingate finished the 8K race with a team score of 24 points, and finished with a total time more than three minutes faster than second-place Queens University.
“This has been a long time coming for the men,” Bulldogs head coach Pol Domenech said. “We knew we had a team capable of winning the SAC Championships last year…this feels good to finally break through after two years of waiting. The men executed the race plan perfectly.”
Domenech was voted as the SAC Coach of the Year by his colleagues, marking the first time the fourth-year coach has won the award.
Saturday’s third-place finisher, Bastian Mrochen–a freshman from Germany–took home SAC Freshman of the Year honors. Mrochen has been Wingate’s most consistent performer all season and finished the conference meet with a new personal-best time of 23 minutes, 59 seconds.
Senior Bulldog Felix Nadeborn crossed the line in second place, edging teammate Mrochen by just three seconds, and trailed gold-medal winner Jan Lukas Becker by six seconds. Both Nadeborn and Mrochen, as well as Scott Nutter and Oliver Way were selected to the All-SAC first team.
With the conference championship now in the rearview mirror, the Bulldogs will turn their attention to the NCAA Southeast Regionals on Nov. 6. The regional competition will go from an 8K to a 10K event, and will be held at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.
From there, Wingate hopes to qualify for the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 20 in Florida. If the Bulldogs are able to make it as a team, it would mark the first time in school history that they will make a cross-country national championship appearance.