Womens cross country enjoys 2 successful weeks

Parker Willis

After placing third Sept. 30 at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational, the Lions went back to Illinois to place second on Oct. 7 at the Missouri-Illinois Border Wars.

“We had a great race. Actually that’s two weeks back-to-back,” said women’s head coach Patty Vavra. “At the Chicago Invitational we took a nice step forward and ran really well as a team. Then this week we ran even better.”

She said the big rewars of coming in second was it was the Lions’ last regular season meet and there were four of other MIAA schools at the meet. Three of them were ranked higher than the Lions the week before, because the team was ranked No. 24. But after the second-place finish the Lions were bumped up to No. 16.

She was also proud of how close her runners were together.

“We had a great pack. Our one through five runners were only 34 seconds apart,” Vavra said. “We had four people that ran under 19 minutes on a pretty tough course.”

The top five were Kimi Shank, 18:33; Kara Eckard, 18:37; Krista Merrill, 18:54; Abbey Adams, 18:57; and Courtney Waltbillig, 19:07.

But she said the biggest part was this gave her team a great amount of confidence going into the conference championship.

“The conference championship is a very big goal for us. But the real meet that means something is still three and a half weeks away, the regional championship,” she said. “The conference championship is just really about bragging rights.

“The regional championship is how you qualify for nationals and that’s not until the first week in November.”

So the Lions can’t let up yet.

“We’ve still got an important part of the season coming up, so we’re cautiously optimistic,” Vavra said.