Women run to fifth in conference meet

After having their top finisher injured in the middle of the 6K race, the women’s cross country team came in fifth at the MIAA conference meet Oct. 22 in Pittsburg.

With 102 points, they were two points behind fourth and 13 points behind third.

“It was disappointing because we know we’re better than fifth in the conference,” said Jamie Burnham, assistant cross country coach.

Senior Erin Click had an injury halfway through the race that took her out of competition.

Head coach Patty Vavra said it had a great bearing on the team because it was a 20-point turnaround which would’ve led them to place higher.

“In all honesty, it was not a bad race as a team, Erin is just an integral part of the team’s success,” Vavra said.

Finishing at the front of the Lions’ pack was sophomore Kelly O’Toole with a 13th-place finish in 22:43.10.

Freshman Kara Eckard came in 16th with a time of 22:46.40. Senior Kelly Fanning was 20th, completing the 6K course in 23:07.30.

“We had okay races,” O’Toole said. “But in conference, we need to have good races. It was overall disappointing for everyone.”

Click came in 26th with 23:18.10. Right behind her was freshman Alison Walker with 23:26.30.

Freshman Kari Fritchie ran the course in 23:48.30 for 35th place. Sophomore Abby Adams ran it in 24:05.60; freshman Krista Merrill in 24:14.60; and junior Ashley Hendrix in 25:15.80.

“Definitely without a doubt, they’re a great group of young ladies,” Vavra said.

She also said they work extremely hard without any complaints whatsoever.

“Overall, we’re getting better each week, which is one of the goals we had,” Click said.

Vavra said they run the best race as a team when there’s the most at stake.

However she said believes they have come up short of translating their potential in practice into perfection at a meet.

“The team as a group hasn’t put together at the meet on the same day,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential there to still see an improved performance as a team.”

Vavra said she hopes to see everything come together for the team at regionals Saturday in Abilene, Texas.

“I think at conference we didn’t run the best of our capabilities,” Fanning said. “Hopefully at regionals we can race better as a team as a whole.”

She said there’s not much more training to do in between conference and regionals because “the hay is in the barn” and what they have to do now is improve and race better.

As for the workouts, Click said the team is backing off a little on mileage to try to get fresh legs for the regional meet.

“The positive reaction the team had [from the conference meet] is one of greater determination to have a good regional meet,” Vavra said.

Burnham said the team’s goal is probably to get in the top five at regionals, but if the team ran its best race of the year and went perfect it could get into the top two.

“But everything has to happen on that day,” he said. “And that’s why we’re going down there to run it.”