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Cougars finish third at UMAC championships

Led by freshman Martin Zais, the University of Minnesota, Morris men's cross country team ran to a third place finish at the 2011 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Championships Saturday.

Zais placed sixth overall, crossing the finish line at Minneopa Golf Course in Mankato in 28:10.3, just over 15 seconds out of a top-five finish. His time sets a new career best for the freshman, dropping six seconds off his time from the Roy Griak Invitational a month ago.

The individual champion was Zais' older brother Adam, running for Northland and winning by nearly a minute.

The Cougars finished third as a team, scoring 80 points, and sitting just three points behind runner-up Northland who scored 77. St. Scholastica was once again the UMAC team champion, with four runners in the top-15 and all five in the top-20 to finish with 54 points.

North Central and Northwestern rounded out the top-five with 111 and 130 points, respectively.

Charles Abraham was the second Cougar to finish, placing 13th with a 28:58.6, just three seconds out of 12th. It is his second-best time of the season and his second straight time under 29:00.

Greg Schumacher rounded out his UMAC career with a 29:14.0 to place 16th, just missing a top-15 tally while crossing the line in a trio of runners finishing just over a second apart. It was also his second-best time of the season, and over 20 seconds better than his championship time from a season ago.

Daniel Tiernan in 22nd and Andrew Birnstengel in 23rd closed out the Cougar scorers, finishing in 29:36.6 and 29:43.6, respectively. Each posted a new season high, with Birstengel finishing under 30:00 for his second straight meet, after doing so for the first time in his career the last time out.

The Cougars will run at the Fall Finale in St. Joseph this weekend, in preparation for the NCAA Regional meet on Waverly, Iowa on Nov. 12.