ABILENE, Texas -

Hardin-Simmons will send three runners to the NCAA South/Southeast Cross Country Regional that will be contested on Saturday at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

Freshmen Ashley Sutton and Victoria Cortes will both represent the Cowgirls after strong finishes at the American Southwest Conference Championship on Nov. 2 and sophomore Clay Smith will be running for the Cowboys.

“It will be the first time for any of them at an NCAA Championship event,” said Smith. “We are looking to just go out and all three have a good performance.”

Cortes finished fourth with a career-best time of 24:47. It was just her second race of the season. She earned ASC freshman of the year honors with her finish.

“We knew Victoria was a great athlete at Abilene High,” said HSU head coach Rodney Smith. ”She is very competitive so it doesn’t surprise me she did so well at the ASC meet.”

Ashley Sutton finished 12th at the ASC meet with a time of 26:35 to earn second-team all-ASC honors and the trip to regionals.

“Ashely is a hard worker and is very motivated and dedicated. We were happy to see her get in the top 14 to qualify for the NCAA meet.

The 6K women’s race will begin at 10 am CST.

Clay Smith will be running for the Cowboys after a 13th-place finish at the ASC meet. Smith, who has been working his way back from an early-season injury is peaking at the right time. He ran a 28:46 in the ASC meet.

“It has been a tough year for Clay, he came into the season in great shape and ran really well early, then he injured his Achilles and hasn’t been able to train as much the last month or so,” said Smith. “We knew it would be close at the conference meet if he could qualify, but he got in the top 14 and earned his trip and hopefully the last two weeks he has been able to get back closer to full strength.“

The 8K men’s race will begin at 11:30 CST.

Information for this story provided by HSU Athletics.