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Mon, Nov. 7, 2011 - [Cross Country Men]

Clinton, MS --- It was a big day for Emmanuel College men's cross country team as the Lions claimed the runner-up spot in the SSAC Cross Country Championships. The Lions traveled to Clinton, Mississippi where they competed in the 2011 Southern States Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, November 5th.  The event was hosted by Belhaven University.

The Lions had three runners in the top 10 led by freshman Leonel Ayala who crossed the line in seventh place with a time of 26:47.50. Freshmen Ethan Alexander who came in ninth place respectfully ran a 27:02.10 with Rashaun Tanner finishing a second behind with 27:03.07.

Rounding out the next two scorers for the Lions was sophomore Jonah Holbert who finished in eleventh place with a 27:05.97 and freshman Josh Wheeler who finished in twelfth place with a 27:14.94. The Lions had an amazing 27 second split between their #1 and #5 runner.

It was understood by the men how important the SSAC Championships were and that this was the race that they had been training for all season. "As a team I feel that we left it all on the course, we put in a lot of hard work this season and finally we got a chance to withdraw that hard work. We ran with determination, drive, and gave God all the glory like we do every race," stated Ethan Alexander. Alexander ran a career best at the SSAC Championships.

After the race, Belhaven University hosted a banquet to recognize and honor the various SSAC academic and athletic awards. The Lions were honored with the Champions of Character Team Award while freshman Ryan Rosbury received the Champions of Character individual award for Emmanuel. Academically, sophomore Jonah Holbert was named to the SSAC All-Academic Team. Freshmen Leonel Ayala, Ethan Alexander, and Rashaun Tanner were named to the SSAC All-Freshmen Team as well as First Team All-Conference. These three men also qualified to compete at the NAIA National Championships in Vancouver, Washington. Leonel Ayala also earned the distinguished Freshman Runner of the Year Award.

Another person that was recognized at the SSAC banquet was Coach Jose Larios. Larios was named the SSAC Men's Coach of the Year. "In the ten years I've coached, I've never come across a group of freshmen that were as coachable and willing to work as these men are. They knew the importance of this event and they were incredibly focused. They have so much determination and I cannot express how proud I am of this group of men," shared Larios.

The Lions will travel next weekend to Cedarville, Ohio to compete in the NCCAA National Championships. The race will be held on Saturday, November 12th on the campus of Cedarville University where there will be 32 teams representing the NCCAA.

Written by: Samantha Finello