Nov. 2, 2013
DENTON, Texas ---- UAB's Elinor Kirk became the Blazers' second individual conference cross country champion Saturday as she captured medalist honors at the 2013 Conference USA Championships.
Kirk, a graduate student with a 4.0 grade point average from Swansea, Wales, added the league cross country title to her impressive list of accolades she has built since enrolling at UAB in 2012. Kirk won high point honors at the C-USA Indoor Track and Field Championships last February at the CrossPlex in Birmingham. She was an NCAA qualifier and All-American in the 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Kirk is the first UAB runner, and second overall, to win the C-USA cross country crown since Elizabeth Ambrus was the individual winner in 2005.
On Saturday, it was Kirk's day as she broke free from a bunched pack of runners with just over 1K remaining.
"I stayed with the pack and then moved up to the lead runners between 3 and 4K," said Kirk, who was also named the Outstanding Senior of the Meet. "Then I made a move and got in front. I was never really leading until then."
From there, Kirk just ran as determined as she could to the finish line. "I was trying not to look behind and just wanted to keep running," she said. "If someone passed me, then they would just have to beat me."
But no one did. Kirk finished with a winning time of 17:09.84 for the 5K race, nearly 10 seconds ahead of runner-up of Cali Roper of Rice who clocked a time of 17:19.91.
Tulsa and UTSA tied for the team title with 67 points. UAB placed eighth with 186.
Sarah Livett was the Blazers' second finisher, just missing on All-Conference USA honors as she finished 26th. Rachel Harley, Lauren Scott, Lindsay Miller and Laurie Pray rounded out UAB's runners.
"This has been a season of ups and downs and we've had a lot of injuries, so it was really good to see Eli finish like this as conference champion," said UAB cross country head coach Anthony Houchin.
Kirk and the Blazers will now set their sights on the NCAA South Regional to be held Nov. 15 in Tuscaloosa. Ala. Kirk's goal is to perform well there to qualify for the NCAA Nationals at Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 23.