By: Alice Coughlin
Berry's women's cross country team had a unique racing opportunity at Georgia Highlands College against former rival Shorter University. The women's race was composed of 12 Berry College runners, eight Shorter University runners, three runners from Bryan College and one runner representing GoGo Running club. Berry College was the only team to score with at least five runners at the 12K distance.
The participants raced along the same 3K loop four times in order to complete the 12K total distance. The race represented a mix of cross country and road racing for the runners. The repetitive, flat nature of the gravel course was contrasted by the natural surroundings of a pond and the highlands of Georgia.
The women's team embraced the daunting distance and maintained their effort through every meter. Leading Berry's team was senior Jenn Cook in second place. Cook finished with a total time of 47:03 for the 12K with an impressive 6K split of 23:40 within her race. Coming in third place was senior Sara Walcott with a total time of 48:40. Walcott averaged a pace of 12:10 for every 3K loop. Despite the challenging distance, Walcott was beaming with joy when she knew she had managed to secure a 10K personal record by 10 seconds within the 12K race effort.
Next for the Lady Vikings in 10th place was sophomore Charlotte Collins, continuing on her path to prime racing fitness. Collins raced 55:27 for the 12K course and managed to negative split the race by 25 seconds in her last 6K. Right behind Collins in 11th place for the race was junior Lauren Nation with a time of 55:38. Nation's average 3K split was 14:16.
Behind Nation was freshman Courtney Barker. Barker raced to 12th place with a time of 57:25. In 13th place for the race and 6th for Berry's team was senior Lauren Hicks. Hicks ran a total time of 57:38 for the 12K distance. Hicks not only ran an even pace for the first three 3K's, but she was able to decrease her last 6K by an impressive 18 seconds.
In 15th for the race was freshman Leslie Stewart. Stewart ran the course in a total time of 58:23. Next for the Lady Vikings was sophomore Katy Jordan in 16th place. Jordan ran a time of 58:59 for the 12K race. Sophomore Allison Preg followed Jordan in 17th place with a total time of 60:05. Preg courageously tackled the challenging 12K distance in her third race of the season.
Inspiring performances came from three freshmen Lady Vikings. In 18th place for the race was Kayla Heflin. Heflin completed the course in 61:50. Heflin ran a consistent race with each 3K loop ranging from 15:20 to 15:35. Even more impressive was Heflin's 6K personal record of 30:56 achieved in the middle of her 12K effort. Annika Stryker came in 19th for the race with a time of 67:35. Stryker averaged 16:53 for each 3K lap and also earned a 6K personal record of 33:34 during her race. Nicole Fredette was able to race one 3K loop in 14:32. In the past several weeks, Fredette has been recovering from an injury and was able to go on a handful of runs prior to the day's race.
In analyzing the results of the women's race, Coach Paul Deaton said, "The team goal in the last six weeks of the semester is to build on the success of today." Even in a different race environment, at a longer distance, the Lady Vikings continue to demonstrate improvement and achieve success.
The Lady Vikings lace up their spikes on Nov. 12 at their home course for the Viking Open.