By: Alice Coughlin
Berry College women's cross country team packed their spikes for Terre Haute, Indiana on Oct. 8th. The team raced at the Gibson Family Invitational, hosted by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and DePauw University. Three of the women's team members had ran at the race in 2010, but for the other seven runners, this was their first time at the well-known, 6K course. The team placed sixth out of 12 teams with 166 points. Coming in the first team place was Bellarmine University with 40 points, DePauw University in second place with 85 points and Illinois Wesleyan in third place with 90 points.
The women were led by seniors Jenn Cook and Sara Walcott. Cook placed fourth with a time of 23:26 with Walcott crossing the line with Cook in a time of 23:27 for fifth place. Despite the hot conditions, Cook and Walcott improved upon their standings in the race compared to 2010, and both Cook and Walcott improved their time by over 30 seconds.
Walcott intended to set herself up well for the next home meet in two weeks. Walcott wanted to "do something big in Indiana and then do it again at the Southeast Classic." With her time in Terre Haute, just three seconds off of her personal record, Walcott proved that she is ready to take on Southeast.
Junior Lauren Nation proved her consistency as third for the team in 34th place in the race in 25:46. Next for the team was sophomore Charlotte Collins who raced to 85th place in 27:47. Not far behind Collins was freshman Courtney Barker in 88th place with a time of 27:56.
A notable performance came from senior Lauren Hicks. Hicks placed 95th in the race with a time of 28:32. Hicks is someone who understands the significance of simply embracing the opportunity to race. In her three years on the team, Hicks has endured a variety of bumps in the road of running due to injuries. Last year at the Gibson Family Invitational, Hicks watched her team race, but this time, she was able to partake in the racing experience. In reflecting on her race, Hicks said she felt "mentally tough the whole time," and was able to maintain focus and bask in the fun of racing.
Leslie Stewart, Brooke Hoppmeyer, Allison Preg and Annika Stryker rounded off the team roster. Stewart ran a time of 29:12 for 103rd place. Hoppmeyer is a senior at Berry taking on her first season of cross country, ever, after three years of collegiate soccer. Hoppmeyer made her racing debut with a time of 30:58 in 117th place. Not only was this Hoppmeyer's first race of the season, but it was also her first time racing a cross country 6K.
Also making her racing debut for the season was sophomore Allison Preg in 31:25 for 122nd place. Preg has been battling difficulties in her running due to injury; however, she has been gaining ground in her running in the past several weeks. Freshman Annika Stryker travelled with the team for her first time. Stryker placed 130th in 35:06 for her first 6K race.
The Lady Vikings have proved they are ready for the prime cross country racing month that is October. The women will return to the course at home for the Southeast Classic on Oct. 22.