Coastal XC duo qualifies for NCAAs with top-12 finishes

ccuxc-saaymanCoastal Carolina’s Kyla van Graan and Letitia Saayman each placed among the top 12 at the NCAA Southeast Regional cross country meet on Friday afternoon, leading the Chanticleer women’s team to their best team finish since 2006.

Coastal placed 16th in the 38-team field behind the performances of van Graan and Saayman, who put themselves in good position to qualify for next week’s NCAA Championships.

Leading the way for Coastal at the regional for a second straight year, van Graan finished the 6K race in 10th place overall with a time of 20:35.67. Saayman followed close behind in the 12th spot in 20:39.14. Both recorded their personal-best 6K times.

By finishing in the top 25, van Graan and Saayman each earned all-region honors and are eligible to advance to the NCAA meet, which will include 38 competitors who are not among the full teams that qualify. The top four finishers at each of the nine regionals from non-qualifying teams automatically advance, along with two at-large individuals. A total of 31 teams make the NCAA meet – the top two from each regional and 13 at-large selections.

Runners from North Carolina, William & Mary, Virginia, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Furman comprised the other top 12 finishers in Friday’s regional, with William & Mary and Virginia taking the top two team spots.

The complete team and individual fields for the NCAA Championships will be announced Saturday afternoon.

Also for Coastal on Friday, Aynslee van Graan turned in a solid finish in her first regional, placing 49th among the 257-runner field with a time of 21:20.12. Rachel Byrd was the fourth Chant to finish (23:28.73), followed by LaChelsie Thomas (24:28.05).

The Chanticleers were the leading Big South team in the meet. Liberty placed 19th, Campbell took 25th and conference champion High Point was 26th.

Coastal men’s team seniors Joseph Keitt and Evan Niciphor competed in their fourth and final regional meet. Keitt placed 133rd in the 231-runner field of the 10K race with a time of 32.49.50, while Niciphor finished 145th in 33:09.30.

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