By: Alice Coughlin
The Lady Vikings competed at the University of North Florida's Spring Break Invitational for their first outdoor track meet of the season. The runners raced against schools including Kennesaw State University, Georgia Southern University, Florida A&M, Lipscomb University and other schools from across the country that took advantage of Jacksonville's favorable racing weather. Eight team members competed during the two-day meet. Five runners raced in the 5000 meters on Friday night and three runners raced on Saturday afternoon in the 1500 meters.
The 5000 meter race resulted in phenomenal personal records and solid performances for all of the Lady Vikings. Coming in first from the team was senior Jenn Cook. Cook placed 10th in the overall results in an astounding time of 17:49.26. Cook, who has already earned a school record during indoor track season, accomplished a highly sought after feat for many women distance runners. To break 18 minutes in the 5000 meters is a truly impressive accomplishment. This was Cook's first time to smash the 18-minute barrier. In recalling the race, Cook admitted that it was certainly a hard-fought race, but that it was also "fun and exciting."
Another senior to have an awe-inspiring breakout race was captain Sara Walcott. Walcott placed 17th overall in a time of 18:30.20. Walcott's time was 17 seconds faster than her previous personal record for the 5000 meters.
According to Walcott, "It was a good race, in the first race of a season, you don't know what kind of shape you're in, so you're free of the kind of expectations that can lead to disappointment."
This freedom from calculated expectations was not only a positive factor in Walcott's race, but it proved to be a contibuting factor for many of the runners.
Next for the Lady Vikings in the 5000 meters was sophomore Charlotte Collins. Collins placed 34th in a time of 20:24.07. Collins' race was a significant representation of progress in her racing for the past year. Although it was not a personal record, it is undoubtedly a solid time and a representation of great races to come.
Racing to 37th place in the 5000 meters was junior Lauren Nation. Nation raced to a time of 20:58.45. Freshman Annika Stryker was the final Lady Viking to compete in the 5000 meters. Stryker raced to 40th place in a time of 25:48.25.
Three Lady Vikings competed in the 1500 meters on Saturday afternoon. Freshman Nicole Fredette was the first runner from the team in the 1500 meters. Fredette raced to 40th place overall in a time of 5:31.33. According to Coach Paul Deaton, this was a very strong performance for Fredette.
Also competing in the 1500 meters were freshmen Leslie Stewart and Kayla Heflin. Stewart raced to 47th place in a time of 6:05.18. Heflin raced to 50th place in a time of 6:19.56. This was Heflin's first race for both indoor and outdoor track.
The University of North Florida's Spring Break Invitational allowed the women of Berry College track and field to take it outside and test their racing fitness. The meet proved to be an event that will usher in even greater racing success. The Lady Vikings will compete again at Georgia Tech for the Georgia Invitational on March 16 and 17.