By: Alice Coughlin
Despite the early September timing, the Berry College men's cross country team was able to bask in a crisp fall-like morning race. The men's team laced up their spikes, donned the Berry name on their jerseys and toed the line Saturday morning. The men greeted the season with anticipation to battle with competitors, survive the unpredictable forces of nature and face the physical inhibitions which the sport of cross country inevitably serves to its willing contestants.
Berry College's men's cross country team kicked off the season in the first race at the Berry College Invitational. The men's team was fourth out of 15 teams. Shorter University claimed first place, Emory University took second and Bryan College had a 20 point margin over Berry's team in order to secure third place. In a racing field of 133 runners, Berry College had nine men racing with a team average of 27:27.67 for the 8K course.
The men's team was able to set the tone for a competetive racing environment for the women's race to follow. Particularly crucial in leading the team and setting the precedent was sophomore Ryan James. James placed eighth in the race with a time of 26:30.51. James raced at the heels of the lead pack of the race, led by the unshakable group of Shorter University runners. Following months of 5:00 am summer runs to beat the heat, James' took advantage of the cooler morning and left nothing on the course in his courageous performance.
Following James in a time of 26:39.72 was junior Michael Sexton. Sexton placed 12th in the race with a consistent effort throughout and a powerful kick to polish off his well-executed performance. In third for the men was team captain and senior, Blake Bannister. Bannister placed 19th in a time of 27:13.19 for the 8K course.
Senior Chase Babineaux returned to the course after taking the 2010 cross country season off due to the lingering effects of a stress fracture. Babineaux placed fourth for the team in a time of 28:06.27, proving his readiness to take on the challenge of his final cross country season at Berry. Next from the team were sophomore Brandon Davis and freshman Zack Jordan. Davis has made considerable strides since his freshman cross country season and completed the race in 28:48.63. Jordan made his collegiate running debut in a time of 28:54.30.
Junior Lucas Stocks began his season with a reputable race by breaking the 30 minute mark in a time of 29:39.30. William "Boots" Anthony finished the race in 30:07.21. Although satisfied with his first race, Boots intends to have considerably faster races this season. Representing the ninth competitor for the men's team was Chris White. White crossed the finish line in a time of 31:57.42.
This season, the Berry College men's team can anticipate racing improvements as well as the mud, sweat and tears that are synonymous with cross country. The men's team will travel to Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on Sept. 24th for their next competition.
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