Luis Vargas wins NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country meet

Phoenix runner tops the field with his sixth straight win of the season, including the Colonial Athletic Association conference championship.

Phoenix runner Luis Vargas crosses the finish line in first place at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country Meet on Nov. 14.
Elon senior Luis Vargas surged to victory in the NCAA Division I Regional Cross Country Meet on Nov. 14 in Louisville, Ky., with a 10,000-meter time of 30:05.8, more than 8 seconds faster than the second-place runner. Vargas is the first Elon runner ever to win an NCAA regional cross country meet. His win comes two weeks after he claimed first place at the Colonial Athletic Association championship meet in Boston.

The winning time posted by Vargas was just shy of his school-record 10-K time of 29:46.5, which he set last November at the Southeast Regional meet in becoming the program’s first All-Region runner. Vargas has recorded six wins in six races during this record-setting senior season.

> Full NCAA Southeast Regional results

“Luis ran a perfectly tactical race like we wanted,” said Elon head cross country coach Nick Polk. “He was in control through and about halfway at the 5K mark he decided to push and pull away from the field. He executed it perfectly and we’re excited about him becoming Elon’s first NCAA Cross Country qualifier.”

The Colonial Athletic Association cross country champion will look to become Elon’s first All-American in program history when he competes at the national meet next Saturday, Nov. 22, in Terra Haute Ind. Vargas also competed on the same course in Terra Haute earlier this season in the NCAA Pre-Nationals where he had the eight-fastest time among all the men’s races featuring the top runners in the nation.

Other Elon men’s finishers in the Southeast Regional meet included Ari Rothschild (68th place), Ryan Gwaltney (161st), Reed Payne (172nd), Sam Geha (186th), Adam Bernstein (189th) and Carlos Andino (212th). The men’s team finished in 19th place in a field of 33 teams.

In the women’s NCAA Regional race, the Phoenix recorded the team’s highest-ever finish at eighth place out of 38 teams. Tereza Novotna set a school-record time of 20:54.2 in the 6-K race, finishing in 22nd place. Teammate Jenny Gallagher finished in 30th with a time of 21:02.7, which is the second-fastest time in Elon history. Other Phoenix runners setting personal-best times were Kimberly Johansen (21:21.4), Elyse Bierut (21:40.7) and Emily Dunne (21:50.8). Other Elon finishers were Kaitlin Snapp (111th place) and Haylee Dawe (116th).