BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Georgia State women’s cross country team captured their first conference championship in twelve years led by Katharine Showalter’s individual victory at the 2012 Sun Belt meet Saturday morning.
Competing in their first Sun Belt Championship, the Panthers edged out Arkansas State by a score of 52-58. Host and defending champions Western Kentucky took third place with 83 points.
An Atlanta-native, Showalter earned the Sun Belt Runner of the Year award by covering the 5K course in a time of 17:41.1. Rachel Hannah was the last GSU women’s runner to finish first at a conference meet when she won the CAA individually in 2007.
Five Panthers earned All-Conference honors at the meet. Showalter and Hannah Stefanoff, the 2011 CAA Rookie of the Year, were named to the first team All-Sun Belt for the women, along with Valentin Poncelet on the men’s side.
Niamh Kearney and Jennifer Rubel were also named to the All-Sun Belt third team by finishing in the top 15 in their race with the 83 female competitors.
Head Coach Chris England was also named the women’s Coach of the Year by the league coaches. Jessica Raby was the latest GSU coach to earn that distinction back in 2008.
Georgia State’s men’s team came in seventh out of 12 conference teams. Tyler Tomy contributed a 25th place finish and Carlos Galindo finished 29th among the 82-runner field.
Last season, the women’s team placed third while competing at the CAA championship meet, where the men finished fourth. The Panthers hosted the meet at Nash Farm Battlefield in Hampton, Ga.
Cross Country is the first Georgia State program to compete for the Sun Belt since the school announced a return to the league in July 2012. The men’s program competed in the league three years from 1978-80, finishing third each season.
GSU has one final meet on their 2012 schedule at the NCAA South Regional meet at Tallahassee, Fla. on Nov. 9.