Mulligan, Simms lead Scots to fourth-place finish at USA South Championships

Mulligan, Simms lead Scots to fourth-place finish at USA South Championships

Maryville College Women's Cross-Country squad competed in the USA South Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, as Lea Mulligan and Lilly Simms ranked top-five finishes for the Scots.

As a squad, MC finished fourth in a field of 13 teams, as they averaged 25:55.23 in the 6K event.

"The girls ran pretty well today," Head Coach Tyson Murphy said. "We finished fourth, and we were picked at the beginning of the season to finish sixth. So, we definitely overachieved by external eyes from our peer institutions. Throughout the season, we've been as high as second, and we probably averaged out in third place overall from week to week. On one level, I wish that we could have pulled out a second- or third-place finish, but we knew it was going to be a really tight race. We had season bests across the board…I'm proud of how our girls ran."

Mulligan – a junior for the Scots – completed the Rocky Mount, N.C. course in a time of 23:12.97. She was just 10 seconds behind the winner in Berea's Jamie Welch. The Chattanooga, Tenn. native collected All-Conference honors from the USA South as a top finisher.

Simms – a Pigeon Forge, Tenn. native – was named the league's Rookie of the Year for her stellar season.

The first-year runner had numerous top-five finishes this season, including the conference championships.

Both runners – along with the MC squad – will look forward to the NCAA Southeastern Regionals. Murphy hopes Mulligan or Simms can complete what no other Scot has done before – qualify for the National Tournament.

"Our goal is to go to Regional Championships and give our team its best chance to gain regional ranking," Murphy said. "Most importantly, we're looking to put Lilly Simms and Lea Mulligan in the All-Region, Top-35 finishers. On the right day, they'll have a chance to qualify for the national championship. I think Lea Mulligan right now is running probably 10th or 15th place in the Region, if they were to be ranked. Lilly is four or five spots behind her, so they both have a chance this season to do what nobody else in Maryville College history has had a chance to do and qualify for the national championship."

Simms ran a 23:52.05 in the championship race to round out the top five.

Welch won the race just in front of Mulligan. Methodist University's Makayla Lawler ranked third with a time of 23:30.09, while Covenant's Sarah Kate Lipperd ran a 23:41.88 for fourth.

Berea College won the race as a team, averaging 24:08.17. Covenant College ranked second, while Piedmont College took third. Maryville – with an average time of 25:55.23 – placed fourth, as Meredith College rounded out the top five.

Maryville's Hannah Mattison finished top 20 with a time of 25:40.16. Maleah Wooten ranked 44th with a time of 27:42.43, while Emily Cooper ranked 64th at 29:08.50.

Mikala Wooten was 67th with a time of 29:31.01, while Rebecca Starks ran the 6K course in 30:10.82. Sarah McFann had a time of 30:55.37, as Kennedy Hardnett ran a 36:21.23.

Maryville will now prepare for the NCAA Southeastern Regional race on Saturday, Nov. 16. The race will be held at Shelby Farms in Memphis, Tenn.