DENTON — After two years of being on the brink of a conference title, the third time proved to be the charm for the UTSA women's cross country team on Saturday, as the Roadrunners won the Conference USA Championship.
Led by Nina Herrera's fourth-place finish, UTSA captured the program's first league crown since 1996 and sixth overall in school history (1991-93, '95-96 Southland Conference).
It didn't come without drama, however, as the Roadrunners tied Tulsa with 67 points but won the head-to-head tiebreaker, 3-2.
"The girls never gave up and fought like champions all the way through the finish line today," said head coach Scott Slade, who was named C-USA Coach of the Year following the meet. "We were trailing with 200 meters to go, but they really turned it on at the end and passed numerous runners. I am so proud of all the hard work they've put in this season. They have been focused on bringing a Conference USA Championship to UTSA and they worked hard to make their dreams a reality."
"This group has worked extremely hard this season and to realize their goal of winning UTSA's first-ever Conference USA Championship is special," Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Aaron Fox said. "This a proud day for our program and Coach Slade has a done tremendous job of leading them this season."
Herrera covered the 5,000-meter Eagle Point Cross Country Course in 17:24.04 and was the Roadrunners' top finisher for the fourth time this fall and the 10th time in her career.
Emily Perez was four spots back in eighth following her 17:40.90 performance, while Samantha Fish (17th/17:52.21), Alyssa Diaz (18th/17:55.26) and Stephanie Wangui (20th/17:58.02) all finished in the top 20 to round out UTSA's scorers.
Meanwhile, the Golden Hurricane quintet of Brandi Krieg (ninth/17:41.52), Katherine Camp (10th/17:42.50), Stacie Taylor (11th/17:44.10), Natasha Cockram (16th/17:49.90) and Rachel Baptista (21st/17:59.16) accounted for its co-winning total.
UAB's Elinor Kirk won the individual title in 17:09.84.
The Roadrunners came up just short in its first and only appearance at the Western Athletic Conference Championships a year ago, as Idaho edged them by only three points in what was the closest team finish in league history. In 2011, UTSA raced to its best showing in 12 years at its final Southland Championships and just missed a league title after finishing five points behind Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Roadrunners will be back in action on Friday, Nov. 15, at the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco. UTSA currently is the region's fifth-ranked team in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association South Central Region poll.