by Reese Williams
On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Women’s Cross Country team competed in the Capital Cross Challenge, also known as Pre-Nationals, in Sacramento, CA. Overall as a team, they finished thirteenth out of 40 teams, a very strong showing.
“This race was a great gage of where we as a team,” said Corinne Fanta, junior nursing major. “We now know areas where we can continue to improve, but know that we could still be better individually and as a team, and that’s a great feeling. Nationals is the goal and this was a great start.”
The Spartans finished the race with four runners finishing in the top 125, all logging personal bests in the 6k event. Junior, Zoe Jarvis ran a time of 21:21.2; junior, Sydney Rhodes finished at 21:36.7; freshman, Aspen Gordon at 21:41.7; and junior, Monika Bell at 22:11.4.
“Our top four runners really showed this race and put a lot out there,” said Julia Lockridge, team captain and senior cybersecurity major. “We had Zoe Jarvis, Sydney Rhodes, Aspen Gordon, and Monika Brill putting out an outstanding showing, and I think that their performance really pushed the rest of the team to push themselves too.”
At last year’s Pre-Nationals race, the women’s cross country team finished sixth out of 30 teams and had five runners finish in the top 60. However, this year there were more teams and greater competition, with some Division I, western teams racing.
“Last year at Pre-Nationals, we were sixth and this year we took thirteenth, but we ran against much better teams this year, some of them being big division one schools,” said Jarrett Slaven, head coach. “I was really satisfied.”
The team has high aspirations to make it to the Division II NCAA Nationals in November. In order to do so, the team must place in the top three teams at the South Region meet on Saturday, Nov. 9. Last year the team took seventh.
“I don’t have a doubt in my mind that we could be one of the top three teams in the region and move on to nationals,” said Fanta. “We have a great eagerness, coming back from last year, and knowing how that race ended for us. I would love to get another opportunity to make it to nationals. I think we have great potential.”
This cross country team is finally starting to come to fruition. Currently, five of the seven women on the varsity team have competed together for three seasons now.
“We started as a young team two years ago and now looking back on every race we’ve ran as a team, you can see the growth that’s come through,” said Lockridge. “You can see that we’ve continuously built every year. Our first season, we did okay and ran the 6k for the first time. Last year we came back and won conference. And now this year we’re going to come back and hopefully win conference again and move on to nationals. It’s one step further for us every year.”
Fanta said that in order for the team to achieve their goals, the key is going to be staying positive.
“Knowing that some days are going to be hard and the training can be really tough, we have to be in it together as a team,” said Fanta. “At the end of the day it’s the team score that’s going to get us there.”
The next meet on the teams road to Nationals will be the Florida State Invitational in Tallahassee, FL on Friday, Oct. 11.
Reese Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org