2016 Cross Country Season in Review

Hannah Coffin, Emily Drouin and Rebecca Evans.
Dec. 13, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UAB cross country team wrapped up its 2016 season last month after competing in six meets held across the Southeast.  


  • UAB improved its Conference USA finish from 11th place in 2015 to 7th place in 2016
  • The Blazers improved their NCAA South Regional finish from 25th to 19th place
  • UAB’s top-nine runners finished under the 19:34 mark at the Conference USA Championship – last season, only the top three finished as fast
  • The Blazers earned a No. 12 rank in the USTFCCCA South Region poll, first time since 2014
  • The Blazers return 11 of their runners from this season, including Rebecca Evans who placed first for UAB in four of the six meets
  • UAB added three signees for 2017


  • UAB welcomed eight newcomers to its team in 2016 – six whom ran during the season – including four freshmen
  • Six Blazers posted career-best 5K times
  • Junior Rebecca Evans led the Blazers in four meets this season – including the Conference USA Championship and NCAA South Regionals
  • Transfer Emily Drouin posted her career-best 5K time at the Conference USA Championship
  • Senior Hannah Coffin came out of the gates ready to go as she led the Blazers in their first meet of the season with a career-best performance
  • Junior Rebecca Evans and senior Sarah Livett earned All-Conference USA Second Team accolades


  • Two runners in the top 25
  • Hannah Coffin crossed the line with a career-best time as she led the Blazers with a 17th place finish
  • Rebecca Evans finished 22nd 


  • In a muddy, ‘English style’ race, Wales native Rebecca Evans led UAB with the fifth best time the Blazer runners posted all year
  • Emily Drouin finished third for UAB, her highest finish of the season


  • Solid performances by the team with all nearly hitting career-highs
  • Rebecca Evans led UAB with the second fastest performance by a UAB runner of the season


  • In the first 6K meet of the season, the youthful Blazers had a lot to learn – senior Sarah Livett posted the top-time for UAB, finishing 54th overall
  • The Blazers finished 18th in the field of 26 at the Harry Pritchett Running Park


  • A pair of top-15 finishes led the UAB cross country team to a seventh place finish at the 2016 Conference USA Cross Country Championships as Rebecca Evans and Sarah Livet paved the way for the Blazers
  • The Blazers, who were picked to finish 10th in the C-USA Preseason poll, finished seventh in the field of 13 – four places higher than 2015
  • Rebecca Evans cracked 18 minutes for the second time this season as she led the Green and Gold, finishing with a season-best time for an eighth place finish
  • Sarah Livett shaved over 20 seconds off her season-best performance as she clocked in a 13th-place finish
  • Emily Drouin also ran a season-best time good for 29th


  • UAB finished 19th out of 30 teams, six places higher than 2015
  • Rebecca Evans led UAB for the fourth time of the season with the top 6K time UAB posted all season, good for a 46th place finish
  • Sarah Livett and Emily Drouin finished second and third for the Green and Gold, respectively, while clocking season-best performances – knocking a combined 30 seconds off their previous bests
  • Freshman Serena Martinez knocked 58 seconds off her previous 6K time of the season

Head Coach Matt Esche
On the season overall…
This cross country season was a big step in the right direction of changing the culture and expectations of UAB Cross Country. We had a lot of positives starting with many big PR's from almost every single girl on the team. The attitude and dedication of the girls this year has truly laid the foundation for a very exciting future for Blazer XC.

Individually we had some great seasons put together. Rebecca Evans was stellar – soaring past her accomplishments from last year and capping her season off with an All-Conference USA performance and highest NCAA Regional finish ever. Sarah Livett had a bounce back year as last year she was slowly coming back from an achilles injury during the fall.  Sarah came on strong, showing what focus and dedication can do as she earned All-Conference USA honors as well as her highest regional finish as well.  Emily Drouin was a consistent rock for us throughout the year – despite battling sickness, Emily showed up when it counted and gave us her best performance each time out. Track season is going to be very exciting not just for these ladies but the entire distance squad.

On the incoming freshmen ...
The incoming Freshman class will make an immediate impact on the team. Their talent, dedication and expectations will help the UAB Cross Country team reach new heights even quicker.  These are young ladies that want to be at UAB, love the campus, believe in the world class education they are going to receive and are excited about where UAB XC is headed. We have not finished our recruiting for next fall just yet, and are very excited adding a few more dedicated student-athletes to our crew. 

Junior Rebecca Evans
On her thoughts heading into the 2016 season…
We went into the 2016 Cross Country season full of excitement and were eager to show how much we had improved as a team and also to show that we were all coming back stronger and more fit. We were excited to have the freshmen join us and we soon became a very tight and unified team.

On the progress throughout the season …
As the season progressed each race seemed to present us with a different challenge or obstacles, but I feel that we were able to learn something different from each race which helped spur us on for the next competition. Our hard work and determination definitely showed with almost all the team running personal bests several times during the season and to end the season with two All-Conference Second Team honors. We improved our C-USA from 11th to seventh, which was fantastic and a real testament to all the hard work the whole team have put in. We are also very lucky to have Coach Esche coaching us and to have such belief in us as a team and we can't wait to see what we can do on the track.

Senior Hannah Coffin
On the season overall…
This past cross country season was the most exciting for me from a building standpoint - roster size was doubled, and only two people who competed last year were back again this year. It was a big undertaking for the small number of returners to guide the many new faces through the team’s schedule and routines. The beginning of the season was started on an incredibly high note. First collegiate meet for some, a huge PR for myself and a couple others, and most importantly, an outstanding team finish with the closest top-5 spread that I have ever seen at my time at UAB.  As the season went on we got knocked back a bit with minor injuries and sickness, but I think we ended on a positive note to carry us into track season. 

On the goals of the group…
We had set many ambitious but very achievable goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year, but we did not reach all of them due to these setbacks. I was disappointed in how my season turned out because I had such high hopes for my final year of cross country. It is mentally frustrating to come off a great summer of training to then become sick for months at a time. I am healthy now and I could not be more excited for track season. I think this year served as a great learning experience for many.

On the future of UAB cross country…
To me, this team was the true foundation of all the great things to come for UAB XC. They will accomplish great things next year with more depth than this program has ever seen before. 

Head Coach Matt Esche announced the addition of three runners to the team for 2017 as Karlee Stortz, Bethan Evans and Karsyn Whitehead will be joining UAB next fall.

  • Stortz, a four-time state cross country qualifier hails from Lockport, Ill. Stortz continuously improved throughout her years at Lockport HS as she placed 102nd (18:32) at the state meet as a freshman and 72nd (17:59) as a sophomore. Stortz closed the gap last year when she ran 17:44 to finish 55th.
  • Evans, the sister of junior Rebecca Evans, represented her home country of Wales 12 different times in Cross Country and Track and Field. The highly touted runner also competed in both the Celtic Cross Country and Celtic Track and Field Championships.
  • Whitehead, a standout at Scottsboro HS in Alabama, was a 5A State Cross Country runner up, as well as 3,200-meter runner up and placed third in the 5A state 1,600-meter race.

For more information on UAB Cross Country and Track and Field, follow the Blazers on Twitter (@UAB_TF_XC).