Gotta Run: Catawba Cross Country on a roll at SAC Championships

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2022

Last Saturday’s South Atlantic Conference Cross-Country meet was hosted by Catawba College at Salisbury Community Park. Coach Jason Bryan’s men’s and women’s teams had solid finishes with men’s team finishing second on an 8K (4.97 miles) course while the women took third on their 6K (3.7 miles) course. A total of 13 colleges and universities competed.

Catawba’s sizzling freshman Madison Clay topped the women’s field with a time of 21 minutes 58.7 seconds. It was the fastest time ever for the 6K in the Catawba program and Clay was the first conference winner since 1997 since Allison Dupree Adams captured the crown.

Adams said, “It’s awesome to see the rise of track and field and cross country over the last 5-10 years at Catawba. Jason has done an excellent job, especially since the addition of the track and field program has allowed the school to bring more talented recruits into the program. Madison’s hard work paid off with an outstanding win last Saturday!”

Other highlights for the women’s program this year include their highest conference finish since 1998, two runners making the all-freshman team and five all-conference selections. Top five finishers for Catawba included Clay, Mikayla Jones, Raina Andrews, Natalie Almond and Rachel Overby.

Clay, from Morganton’s Patton High School, was named both Freshman and SAC Conference Runner of the Year, a first for the Catawba program.  At 18, Clay knows there are lots of expectations as she continues her cross-country career. She said, “I still find my success hard to believe but I’m honored to represent Catawba as we try to take our team to the next level. It can be stressful but its nice to have goals. I just love running!” Coach Bryan says that Clay smiles constantly, even when she’s passing other competitors on the race course. Clay is an exercise science major and plans to be a registered dietician.

The Catawba men’s team was led by third place finisher Oussama Aiala with his season’s best time of 25:30.06. He was followed by Mooresville native and Freshman of the Year Tanner Smith, Erick Ramierez, EJ Threatt and Brannon Burns.

The men’s second place finish was the highest since 2002. Five all conference selections and two all-freshmen team selections were highlights of the conference meet.

“I am really excited about the group we have here right now,” Coach Bryan said. Both the men’s and women’s teams are dialed in this season and accomplished some great things at the conference meet. This has been building over the past several years and we are having a great team season. Past team members and coaches laid the groundwork for what is happening now, and I am grateful for their hard work. Our goal is to be one of the better collegiate cross country/track programs in the region while making the national level annually. We have a chance to do something special next week at regionals as we try to qualify both teams for nationals.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in the regionals on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Wingate University.

Next up for local racing is the always popular Butterball 5K Run/Walk at The Forum on Thanksgiving Day. It’s Salisbury’s largest 5K and a wonderful way to burn those calories ahead of a big holiday meal. All proceeds go to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan and participants get a commemorative T-shirt, refreshments and a chance to win awards for top three overall and top three in 13 age groups. Cash prizes total $500. Registration is available at The Forum, at and by mail after printing a brochure at the SRR website. More information on this and other upcoming events can be found at