The women’s cross-country team placed fifth at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Central Region Championship in Joplin, Missouri, on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The top five teams to place at the NCAA Regionals were able to continue their season, allowing the Lady Bisons to move on to the NCAA National Championship in Joplin, Missouri, on Nov. 21.
“We accomplished what we wanted to do, which was to make the top five,” senior Kelsey Taylor said. “Our team went in ranked fourth but still finished fifth, which was great.”
Senior Ewa Zaborowska led the Lady Bisons, placing second in the 6K run with a time of 20 minutes, 26 seconds. Zaborowska, along with Taylor, made the All Regions Team.
Dallas Bailey, a 2014 Harding graduate who assists cross-country head coach Steve Guymon, said she and Guymon were nervous but confident in the Lady Bisons’ ability to place in the top five.
“We watch the team practice, and I practice with them sometimes, and I know that their training is there, you just have to make them believe,” Bailey said. “Because if you don’t believe, victory is not going to happen, whether you are physically fit or not.”
The men’s cross-country team also ran on Nov. 7, and ended its season by placing ninth at the NCAA Regionals.
Leading the men’s team was junior Lucas Goodspeed, followed by freshman Larry Lopez and junior Russell Chase to round out the top three. Goodspeed finished 12th overall.
“I was definitely happy with my own race,” Goodspeed said. “My personal goal was making top 15, so that was satisfying to do. I am very proud of the improvement we’ve made as a team. We’re on the right track, and we’re definitely going to continue to trend upward next year.”
Goodspeed said that excitement trumped nerves on Saturday, even knowing that the race could be his last of the season.
“I would say I was more excited than nervous (about the race),” Goodspeed said. “You never know how you’re going to feel waking up the day of a race, but Friday before the race I was feeling good, and when we got to the meet Saturday I felt more like I had a good opportunity than I had the burden of running a race on my shoulders.”
Both Goodspeed and junior Mesa Allison said they were joyful for the success of the Lady Bisons’ cross-country team.
“The women’s meet went pretty close to perfectly,” Allison said. “They were focused, determined to win and got on to Nationals.”
The Lady Bisons will compete at the NCAA Championship in Joplin, Missouri, on Nov. 21. beginning at 12 p.m.