By: Alice Coughlin
The women's track team traveled to Williamsburg, Ky. for the University of the Cumberlands Invitational. Twelve Lady Vikings competed in four different events throughout the day. Five of the Lady Vikings who competed earned personal records. One of the personal records, earned by senior Jenn Cook, was also a school record.
Every runner enters the final races of the season with the hope that their season goals will come into fruition. As a team, all Berry College runners share team standards and aims and also individual goals that they form for their own personal improvement. However there are also the unwritten, unspoken hopes and dreams that a runner keeps to themselves, but also keeps closest to their heart. Many of these hopes are never revealed, but when a teammate has a groundbreaking race and a history making performance, one can only imagine that it has been with them every step of the way.
Senior Jenn Cook earned her second school record of the season in the 1500 meters. Cook came in second place with a school record and personal record time of 4:41.01. The individual to beat Cook for first place was able to break the 10 year-old stadium record, proving that Cook was not racing an ordinary field of runners. The school record that Cook broke was raced by Shane Harris, a multiple time All-American for the team in the late 90s. Harris had raced the previous record in a time of 4:41.16 at the NAIA Nationals in 1997.
According to Cook, the race was set up perfectly for her to run the record. Two University of Cumberland runners were set on breaking the stadium record that was close to the time Cook wanted to run. Cook followed their lead during the race and was able to capture the record.
Cook recalls, "It was really awesome especially because it was so close. At first when I looked down at my watch, I couldn't tell if I had it. I was so excited for the official results."
Despite the ideal set-up for the racing field, there were still hitches during the day, "Most of us felt rushed because of the rolling schedule and I hadn't been feeling well beforehand, but you just have to get out there and run- that's all you can do" said Cook.
Cook's performance ushered in many more astounding races from her teammates. Senior captain Sara Walcott raced to 5th place in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:56.71. Walcott's time was not only a personal record, but it was also the first time she broke the five-minute mark for the 1500 meters. Following Walcott, in another impressive performance, was sophomore Charlotte Collins. Collins came in 11th place for the race in a personal record of 5:14.74.
Freshman Nicole Fredette also ran in the 1500 meters. Fredette came in 17th place with a time of 5:26.44. Next was junior Lauren Nation in 18th place with a time of 5:31.27. Sophomore Katy Jordan raced the 1500 meters in 23rd place. Jordan's time of 5:42.60 is a significant personal record.
Three Lady Vikings competed in the 800 meters. Senior Casey Norris ran a 2:39.76 for 8th place. Then freshman Leslie Stewart ran to 16th place in a time of 2:54.38. Freshman Hibah Abuhamdieh also ran the 800 meters in 2:56.41 for 19th place.
There were also three Lady Viking in the 5000 meters. Freshman Kayla Heflin ran a remarkable time of 22:48.99 for 9th place. Heflin's 5000 meter race is proof of the significant improvements she has made in her running throughout the past two seasons. Freshman Annika Stryker raced to 12th place in 26:26.47. Right alongside Stryker, stride for stride, was senior Lauren Hicks who placed 13th in 26:26.63.
The women also formed three relay teams for the 4 x 400 meter relay. Lauren Nation, Katy Jordan, Jenn Cook and Nicole Fredette had the fastest Lady Viking relay in an unofficial total time of 4:51 for eighth place. Then, Casey Norris, Leslie Stewart, Sara Walcott and Charlotte Collins came in ninth place and ran their relay in an unofficial time of 4:52. The final team for the Lady Vikings was composed of Hibah Abuhamdieh, Lauren Hicks, Annika Stryker and Kayla Heflin for an unofficial total time of 5:38 for 10th place.
For a few of the Lady Vikings, this was their last race of the season, but for seniors Casey Norris and Lauren Hicks, this was their last collegiate race ever.
In reflecting on her time as a Lady Viking, Norris said, "I've had ups and downs in the last four years with running, but this season, this race day, is exactly how I wanted to go out. This right here is more than I could ask for."
The women's track team will race again on April 20 at the Eastern Kentucky Invitational in Louisville, Ky.