Beating the heat

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Women’s cross country overcomes high temperatures to finish second

By LAUREN SCHRICKER
Contributing Writer
[email protected]

Junior Kristina Martin finished in sixth place in the Bill Sudeck Classic last weekend.

Despite the sweltering 90-degree Ohio heat, women’s cross country began the season with a respectable second place finish for the third year in a row at the Bill Sudeck Classic against regionally-ranked Case Western.
Captain Kristina Martin, ’14, finished sixth in the race. She was closely followed by fellow captain Kelly Gallagher, ’13.

“The race was a really good starting point because it was only a 4k, but it was really hot. I think everyone was feeling that,” Gallagher said. “It was nice for everyone to get out there and start racing. Once you get the first one over with the nerves go away.”

The short course eases the runners, especially freshmen, into the long cross country season, explained Head Coach Brent Wilkerson.

“We try to go to a low-key meet for the first race of the year. It gives our freshmen a time to adapt to the longer distance that they have to race in college,” Wilkerson said.

Andy Sharfman, ’15, took ninth place, immediately followed by newcomers Makenzie O’Connor, ’16, and Alyssa Brindle, ’16, who rounded out Allegheny’s top five.

Captain Marisa Brown, ’15, finished as the Gators’ sixth scoring runner. Rookie Jasmine Denvers, ’16, was the seventh scoring runner.

“The freshmen have been adjusting really well. They jumped in and are really outgoing. They make everyone want to work even harder because we have so many girls now that you really have to fight for your spot on the team,” Brown said.

Junior Kelly Gallagher finished in seventh place in the Bill Sudeck Classic last weekend.

Behind their optimism, the lady Gators are in the midst of a grueling, high-mileage practice regimen.

“Most of them have been running since May. It’s a long summer season, especially since it was a little warm. They have to get out there early at 6 or 7 a.m. to get their long runs in. It’s a difficult task to give anybody in college to stay focused and train over the summertime, but they do a really good job,” Wilkerson said.

With such a long preparation period followed by a long season, the team must be careful to stay healthy and keep a positive attitude.

Almost every athlete on the women’s team last year suffered running injuries, Brown said.

“Right now we just need to get motivated for meets. One of our biggest goals is to go to nationals so we really just need to have everyone’s mind set, especially on having no injuries,” she said.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of the previous season, the Gators have made staying healthy one of the steps to reach greater goals.

“We actually have a sign up in our locker room: no injuries, make it to nationals, make top four at regionals, and finally get a women’s championship at our conference, which we haven’t had in a while,” Brown said.

In order to achieve these high goals, the support and drive of the team is equally as important as the skill of the individuals, Martin said.

“We work together, during workouts and in races, to push ourselves to our best. People don’t often think of cross country as a team sport, but it really is in the end,” she said.

“We’re ready to work hard, race hard and show our conference that Allegheny is back in full force.”

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