The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the SCAC conference championships last Saturday in Conyers, GA. The teams had last competed in Arkansas at the Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival, where they had enjoyed good results.
The trip to Georgia was uncomfortable, with the weather doing its best to impede every step of the journey. Leaving Thursday at 11:00 in the morning, the team intended to arrive in Atlanta by 6:30 in the afternoon, but was delayed twice by storms in Houston. The team did not arrive at the hotel in Conyers until 4:30 in the morning. After some sleep, the Bucs surveyed the course, which, despite a large portion being smooth and flat, included an extremely rough section through some woods. The course, located at Georgia International Horse Park, has previously been host to the 1996 Olympic Mountain Biking competition.
The next morning, the nights rain cleared long enough for the men’s race. The race was run in warm and humid conditions. Senior Dan Rudd lead the Bucs with a 22nd place finish, immediately followed by first year Thomas Bobbitt and sophomore Zach Freeland, who finished 26th and 34th respectively.
“It was already a pretty tough course with a lot of hills, but all the rain turned it into a slippery, muddy race. That’s pretty much all we’ve ran in this year though, so our team knew what we were going into and we were ready for it,” said Rudd.
Senior Josh Gideon and junior Allen Smith rounded out the men’s top 5, with seniors Matthew Broussard and David Pruit, as well as junior Sebastian Winkler, also finishing. The men’s times were all suspiciously low, and further review by officials found the men’s course to be 123 meters short of the requisite 8 kilometers. Nonetheless, the men finished 6th as a team, an improvement over last year.
The women’s race was not so fortunate. It started raining shortly after the gun went off with the weather cooling considerably. As a team, the women finished 8th, with senior Tami Warner leading the way in 19th place. Sophomore Lisa Morse and first year-Christina Hadly finished closely together. Juniors Ursula James and Lili McEntire rounded out the top 5. First-year Laura Wooden also ran.
Despite the overall tough weekend, the team still was able to appreciate its success.
“We finished pretty well in the meet, considering that our conference is loaded, and that we were down one of our top runners due to a last-minute injury,” Rudd said. “Overall, I am really proud of the way our team, both the guys and the girls, ran.”
The team will next participate in the Jameson 5K during homecoming weekend, and then travel to the South/Southeast Regional meet in Greensboro, North Carolina, on November 14th.