Senior All-America Chloe Susset won the College 5K at the annual Bill Libby/McMurry Invitational in convincing fashion Saturday, beating the rest of the 73-woman field by nearly 24 seconds with a time of 18:07.22.
The flat-and-fast race - which was Susset's first cross country event in more than a year - took place this morning at Abilene's Grover Nelson Park.
Susset's most recent XC race was at 2011 nationals in Spokane, Wash. She missed all of last fall before registering a tremendous final track and field season that included an all-America citation in the 1500m and another Lone Star Conference championship in the 3K steeplechase.
"I knew Chloe was one of the best runners here," said ACU head cross country coach Drew Graham, "so I told her to go out and win the race. And I didn't know until after that the girl she was racing earlier against from Wesleyan is ranked very high in NAIA. But Chloe came through with a very strong last mile."
"(My performance) wasn't bad for the first race," added Susset. "Coach told me to treat it as a tempo race since we put on a lot mileage this week in preparing for it ... and I really didn't feel all that fresh coming to the starting line."
Jessica Davis and Brenda Felipe of team champion Texas Wesleyan were second and third, respectively, with times of 18:31.01 and 19:01.07. The Rams also claimed the fifth and sixth places as they defeated ACU for the team title, 27-45. Texas-Permian Basin was a distant third with 90 points.
Also competing today were teams from Lubbock Christian, South Plains, Our Lady of the Lake and Ranger College. The host WarHawks placed sixth in the eight-team meet.
In fourth and seventh place were Wildcat freshmen Diana Garcia Munoz and Abilene High graduate Madeline Jordan, who clocked respective times of 19:03.36 and 19:23.98 in their collegiate debuts.
Susset came away very impressed by the newcomers' abilities.
"The new girls are so competitive and motivated, and that has made such a difference within our program," she said. "They are better right now than I was as a freshman, so I believe they are going to be great in the next couple of years."
"Diana was very good over the final 200m to catch the girl from Wesleyan (Lauri Gutierrez) and Madeline worked very hard this week and held up nicely for seventh place," said Graham. "All our girls did very well today, but we're still needing to find those fourth and fifth runners ... We have a very good pack that works hard, and I think we'll be good to go byNovember 1 for conference."
On the men's side, ACU entered just six of its runners and placed fourth in a seven-team field behind South Plains, McMurry and Texas-Permian Basin.
Senior Erik Forrister recorded a top-10 showing with an 8K time of 26:53.81, while newcomer Daniel Block - known more as a 400m and 800m runner - placed 12th in 27:15.02.
"I'm very proud of Daniel," said Graham. "This was one of his highest mileage weeks and he went out there and gave it his best shot. It was a hard week of training and I think the guys came in a little tired, but it was good to be able to identify some of their strengths and what they could do better next time. Some got off to too fast of a start."
The Wildcats return to action next Friday for the Texas Tech Red Raider Open in Lubbock. Start time is to be determined.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.