Grand Rapids, Mich. – Finishing third overall in a field of 337 runners, senior Rachael Dean (Lindenhurst, Ill./Judson University/Lakes) had a huge race in leading the No. 13 ranked Saint Xavier University women's cross country team to a sixth-place finish at the 33-team NAIA Great Lakes Challenge Cross Country Invitational hosted by Aquinas College (Mich.) Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich. Dean finished the 5,000-meter (5K) course in 18:08.29 finishing only behind a pair of runners from Azusa Pacific University (Calif.), the No. 1 ranked team in the NAIA. With all the teams from the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) present, SXU finished only behind No. 6 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in second place.
Junior Ashley Shares (Palos Park, Ill./Moraine Valley CC/Stagg) was next across the finish line for Saint Xavier in 37thplace with a time of 19:12.91. Junior Jackie Ott (Island Lake, Ill./Marian Central Catholic) finished with a time of 19:28.95 for 52ndplace, while sophomore Jordan Wallace (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) was right behind at 19:34.89 for 59thplace. Freshman Elise Prieto (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) crossed in 63rdplace with a time of 19:38.04. Freshman Kayla Droessler (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) was the sixth Cougar finisher Saturday with a time of 20:16.97 in 109thplace. Sophomore Krista Olenek (Algonquin, Ill./Marian Central Catholic) ran a solid race for Saint Xavier coming in at 122ndplace at 20:35.89.
"Rachael had an amazing race against some really strong competition," said SXU women's cross country coach Lisa Ebel. "It was nice to get the chance to run all the teams in our conference this weekend and see where we stack up against them, especially since we have to line up against them again in two weeks for the conference meet."
Saint Xavier takes this weekend off in preparation for the CCAC meet on Saturday, November 5, at Aspen Ridge Golf Course in Bourbonnais, Ill. The women's race is scheduled for a 10:30 a.m. start.