The SXU women's cross country team poses with coaches and men's qualifiers after finishing 22nd in the NAIA
The SXU women's cross country team poses with coaches and men's qualifiers after finishing 22nd in the NAIA
Women's Cross Country - Sat, Nov. 21, 2015

Charlotte, N.C. – Sophomore Ellie Willging (Freeport, Ill./UIC/Freeport) secured NAIA All-American honors with a 23rd place overall finish in leading the Saint Xavier University women's cross country team to a 22nd place team finish at the 2015 NAIA Cross Country National Championship Saturday morning at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, N.C.  Willging finished the 5K (5,000 meters) race with a time of 18:05.1 for her big finish.  SXU had 557 team points en route to its 22nd place finish in the 35-team national event.  It was two spots higher than its current national rank of No. 24 in the final NAIA Women's Cross Country Coaches' Top 25 Poll.

Junior Nicole Maier (Burbank, Ill./Olivet Nazarene/Reavis) came across in 126th place in the field of 321 NAIA runners with a time of 19:12.3.  Sophomore Sierra Downey (Stickney, Ill./Morton College/Morton West) was the third finisher for the Cougars Saturday in 134th place at 19:17.4, while junior Nicole Watkins (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) took 182nd place with a time of 19:37.6.  Junior Courtney Correa (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township) was the final scorer for SXU coming across in 274th place at 20:32.6.  Freshmen Deandra Stokes (South Holland, Ill./Thornton) and Jess Wittmayer (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) rounded out the competitors for the Cougars.  The pair finished less than a second apart with Stokes coming in at 20:37.9 for 279th place and Wittmayer at 20:38.5 for 280th.

"I'm so proud of this team and how they ran today and throughout this season," said Saint Xavier University women's cross country coach Lisa Ebel.  "We don't have any seniors on this squad, so the future looks really bright.  I'm so happy for Ellie, because she has run like an All-American all season and it was nice to see her finish the season with the honor."