Miles on miles on miles, eat, rest, and repeat. The Greenville women’s cross country team does everything with the intention of producing their best efforts at the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) cross country meet. This obviously includes following a balanced nutrition plan, getting a good night’s sleep, and putting in plenty of mileage, but the team also preps for the heart of the season by competing at some hefty races with stiff competitors. On the 15th of September, the team pushed their limits on this immensely hot and humid morning at the Weaton Gil Dodds Invitational. With 260 finishers in the race, the course was packed and footing was tough. For many of the ladies on the team, this was their first swing at a 6,000 meter race. These abnormal conditions presented a challenge, but our determined ladies embraced the experience and many grew as athletes because of it.
Tori Dyson, a sophomore, put in a solid race with a time of 28:22 and showed significant personal improvement from the meet prior. Emma Leonhard, a freshmen, ran an exceptional race for her first 6k and has found that the longer the distance the better. Leonhard finished the 6k with a time of 27:36. Hannah Williams, also a freshman, also had the opportunity to score points for the team with her first ever 6k time of 27:26. Sabrina Favela, a freshmen, described their first 6k as a chance to eliminate the jitters. She also cracked 27 minutes and completed the race with 26:40 as a finishing time. Favela states that she competed well but is, “not satisfied at all and hopes to get better by the end of the season.” Sheridan Noll, a leading senior on the team, put in a gutsy race with a time of 26:24 even under the hot conditions. Another leading senior on the team, Shirley Estes broke 26 minutes and ran a consistent race and ultimately averaged a 6:49, coming in at a competitive 25:26. Leading the team this weekend was Kori Nesbit, a junior, crossing the line with a hard fought effort at 25:16, making her over two minutes faster than her season opener last year.
This was the first complete 6k for the ladies this season. Now that that hurdle has been jumped, the team can focus on improving their times at the maximum distance. This meet simply served as a progressive building block for the vital segment of the season. The team has much bigger and better times in mind moving forward. Favela felt that this was hardly a piece of what these ladies are actually capable of and by the critical point in the season they will be, “that much closer, and of course that much faster.”
The women’s cross country season has barely started, but one can see that these girls already have their sights set on the gold. Although the run, rest, repeat may seem grueling, when their goals are met, it will all be worth it. We should keep our eyes on this determined group of women.