CROSS COUNTRY: Men rebound, women keep rolling at Carolina Pre-District run

Adam Eadens

Finishing last in a big meet could cause one of two reactions from a team – they can lower their heads, or they can get fired up.

After Western finished 21st out of 21 teams at last weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational, cross country coach Curtiss Long decided he’d have a say in the matter.

“Coach lit a fire under our butt pretty good,” Junior Tony Cambron said. “He told us to go out hard instead of lollygagging in the back of the pack.”

They did, and they weren’t. Six of the eight Western runners finished in the top half of the pack in this weekend’s Pre-District meet in Greenville, N.C.

“(Long) wasn’t happy with the way we ran last week.” Enda Grandfield said. “He was bouncing off the walls.

“He pretty much told us to get out fast in the first mile. After about a mile into the race, where you are is pretty much where you’re going to stay. That’s exactly what we did and it worked out well for us.”

Grandfield is returning to form while battling pseudo-athletic anemia, an iron deficiency that results in weakness. He finished third Saturday with a time of 24:22.

“Now compared to two or three weeks ago, I’m a different runner completely,” Grandfield said. “I want to be better this time in four or five weeks.”

The quick-start strategy paid off for every member of the team, resulting in personal best times for most of the team.

“The race went well for everybody,” Daniel Roberts said.

Roberts finished 12th with a time of 24:55.

“We had really good workouts as a team last week,” Roberts said. “We answered the call.”

Others running were Kevin Dick (32nd, 25:37), Anthony Cambron (35th, 25:42), J.P. Joubert (40th, 25:49), Greg Threatt (45th, 25:56), and Thomas Howell (74th, 26:57). Chris Young also ran but pulled out of the race due to aggravation of a previous ankle injury.

Women

The women got back into action after a three-week break from running. The team saw the break as a chance to train and conserve energy. It showed. Three of the top four finishers ran the fastest races of their careers.

Sophomore Cara Nichols finished second in the 5K race in a personal best time of 17:17.

“I liked the course, which is good because it’s our district course,” Nichols said. “I was glad it stopped raining.”

Leftover rain from Tropical Storm Kyle had showered the course through Friday night.

“The course was supposedly soaked, but it cleared up,” Nichols said.

Bonita Paul ran a personal-best time (17:19) despite not training all week, and finished third.

“I started slow behind the main group,” Paul said. “I didn’t want to push it.”

Paul worked her way back to the front, finishing just seconds behind Nichols.

“I had a lot left.” Paul said. “I probably should have gone out a little faster.”

Aimee Wellerding also ran a personal best of 18:47, finishing 27th.

“I went out hard, and I hung on,” Wellerding said. “We’re looking real strong and we’re all improving.”

Rachel Sanford competed with the team for the first time in nearly a year, finishing fifth for Western and 49th in the race with a 19:29.

“I was encouraged just being able to be out there,” Sanford said. “For being my first meet back, I felt like I did pretty well.”

Others running were Olga Cronin (5th, 17:35), Janette Pike (64th, 20:03), Rebecca Sanford (74th, 20:29) and Susana Beraun (101st, 22:02).

Both teams race Saturday at the Pre-NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

Reach Adam Eadens at [email protected]