BEAUMONT, TX--University of Louisiana at Monroe sophomore Maya Aden won the Southland Conference men\'s individual championship in cross country Monday, running the 8,000-meter event with a time of 24:08.

The Canadian runner was also named the conference \"Athlete of the Year\" in his sport at the conclusion of the meet, run over a course at Idylwild Country Club. He is the first ULM runner to win the SLC men\'s cross country crown, although Nicola Roff-Ratcliffe won three women\'s championships in 1987-88-89.

\"My coaches told me to lay back for the first half of the race,\" said Aden. \"I was second and then took the lead with about 800 meters to go. I was injured last year but I felt pretty confident coming into the meet that I would be able to do okay. My teammates and coaches helped me out a lot.\"

The victory was the fourth in five meets this fall for Aden, who had the highest finish of any freshman in the race last year, 12th. His next competition will come in the NCAA Regional Meet in Waco, Texas, on Nov. 13.

\"We told Maya to relax in the first half of the race because we knew he could out-kick the rest of the runners and he did,\" said Assistant Coach Bruce Kritzler, who handles distance runners under Head Coach J.D. MALONE.

Despite Aden\'s victory, the ULM team was only able to finish eighth in the team rankings. Stephen F. Austin, led by Julian Acuna\'s second-place finish, five seconds behind Aden, repeated as the conference team champion with while Lamar won its first-ever women\'s championship with 37 points to 49 for SFA. Ashley Monteau of SFA was the women\'s individual winner. SFA scored 32 points to win the men\'s title and Sam Houston was second with 50.

Pat Morgan was the second ULM runner to finish, coming in 29th with a time of 26:13. Matt Brophy was 40th with 26:40, Danny Webster was 47th with 26:54 and Nathan Hall was 60th with 27:48.

The ULM women finished in 11th place. Freshman Amy Harris was the top Lady Indian finisher with a 24:22 time for 43rd place in the 6,000-meter race, run in rainy and windy conditions. She was followed by teammates Keneshaw Matthews (47th with 25:12, Sarah Willie (60th with 26:17), Amanda Bartlett (65th with 27:48), Jessica Moak (68th with 30:00) and April Walker (70th with 30:43).