CROSS COUNTRY: Teams see huge fields at Pre-NCAA

Adam Eadens

Seven women from Western lined up for the start of Saturday’s Pre-NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

Seven finished.

But with only 11 shoes among them.

“Someone spiked the back of my shoe,” sophomore Cara Nichols said.

Her heel popped out of the shoe, and she was passed left and right as she struggled to put it back on.

Nichols gave up on it.

“I ran the last two-and-a-half miles of the race with one shoe,” Nichols said.

While Nichols was hampered by the two-socks-and-one-shoe situation, she still managed to run a personal best time of 22:00 in the 6K.

Perhaps it was no coincidence.

Junior Bonita Paul set an all-time school record in the 6K with a time of 21:13, finishing 29th in the race.

She ran barefoot for the second week in a row.

Seventy-five of the best women’s teams in the country were divided into two divisions for the race. Western placed 28th of 37 in its division, six places higher than conference foe Arkansas-Little Rock.

The race was the largest and most competitive race the Toppers have been in all season. It was also their first time to run in consecutive weeks this fall.

The team will look to give their legs a break from hard training this week and prepare for the Sun Belt Conference Championship on Nov. 4.

Men run middle of the pack

Two weeks ago, it was famine for the men. Last week it was feast. Over the weekend, they found themselves somewhere in between.

“We’ve been kind of like the stock market,” coach Curtiss Long said. “The bottom dropped out of the market at Notre Dame, and then we came back and ran very well (at Pre-District).

“This week we gave back a few of those gains and had mixed results.”

Western’s men did not run in either of the seeded races this Saturday, instead running in the open division. The team finished 11th of 24 teams.

“It worked out pretty well for us,” Long said. “The race went pretty fast, not quite as fast as the other two sections.”

Junior Enda Grandfield ran a career best 8K time of 25:12, finishing third in the open division.

The men’s team has run three difficult races in consecutive weeks. Long is seeing the fruits of that labor with two freshmen stepping up Saturday under tough conditions.

Freshman Kevin Dick finished third on the team, 98th overall, while redshirt freshman Ryan Howell finished fourth on the team and 102nd overall.

The men will have a much appreciated two weeks off before their next race, the Sun Belt Conference Championship Nov. 4 in Denton, Texas.