Two weeks ago the cross country team ran at the University of the Incarnate Word Invitational in San Antonio, where the women took 7th and the men took 2nd place in a muddy, gritty race. Senior Dan Rudd led the Pirates with a time of 27:35 and a 3rd place overall finish. Junior Allen Smith and first year Thomas Bobbitt ran personal records for the 8K, with times of 27:51 and 28:16. Also running were Seniors Josh Gideon and Matthew Broussard, sophomore Zach Freeland, first year Sam Martinez and Junior Sam Marsh.
In the women’s race, senior Tami Warner placed 11th in the muddy conditions, running a 3.2 mile race. First year Christina Hadly finished in 31st place. Junior Ursula James and first year Laura Wooden ran together most of the race, coming in 39th and 40th, respectively. Junior Lili McEntire also ran.
The Pirates had been scheduled to run in Clinton, Mississippi at the Mississippi College Invitational. Unfortunately, the race was canceled due to weather and course conditions.
Fortunately, the team was able to re-schedule at the last minute, and traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas to participate in the University of Arkansas Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival. This was the largest race that the team has run this year, with several Division I schools, including the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU, and LSU. Although the team had less success at this level than at smaller, Division 2 and 3 meets, Coach Francie Smith said the experience was good for the team.
“Even though it may have been intimidating, everyone ran extremely well, and the atmosphere of a Division I meet was definitely a good experience.”
By well, everyone on the men’s team ran a PR in their first 10K of the year, with Smith running a school record.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the record,” Smith said. “I just wanted to run the best race I could on that course. I didn’t know about the record until after the race.”
“Overall, I was pleased with how the race unfolded and the record was just an added bonus to an excellent race.”
Smith’s time of 33:16 led the Pirates, with Martinez, Bobbitt, and Rudd all finishing within 10 seconds for an excellent group run. Freeland ran a 34:28 to finish out the top 5. Also running was junior Sebastian Winkler, as well as Marsh and Gideon.
The women’s team ran their 2nd 6 K race of the year, the other being at TLU. Senior Warner again finished first of the team for a season best at 24:09. The time is the ninth fastest time of the season in the SCAC. Hadly and Wooden ran personal records, coming in at 25:50 and 28:19. James and McEntire finished out the women runners.
Warner was extremely pleased with the race, “The Chili Pepper Invitational was a great place to run fast and all the women achieved this goal: 2 personal bests and 3 season bests! I loved the intensely competitive atmosphere, cool weather, and fast course! Everything was just perfect for a great race!”
After this meet, the teams have a huge amount of momentum that will carry them to the SCAC Championships on October 31st in Conyers, Georgia. Although the teams did not place highly in the meet running against larger schools, the team holds itself to a higher standard, and has surpassed all expectations.
This last meet has exemplified the whole season, where veterans step up in leadership roles and new faces jump in eager to make a mark. The exciting and friendly atmosphere of the meet surpassed even that of the usual tight knit running community, fostering friendly competition between runners and encouragement from everyone in the 4,000 something crowd.
Smith’s assessment of the race was, “It was fun racing against such a quality field and am excited about the team’s chances of a top 5 finish at conference.”