LYNCHBURG, Va. – The women's cross country team achieved a promising seventh place in the 5k at the Big South Conference Championship on Saturday, in Lynchburg, Virginia. The team finished only 4 points behind Winthrop, with a score of 159. Georgina Russell was the top performer of the team and surprised everyone including herself by placing seventh, with a new personal record of 18:50.
"The biggest surprise of the weekend was Georgina's race. We knew she had that kind of race in her but we had not seen it come together completely. Now we had bigger stakes and more on the line and she was able to produce a top performance," said Jim Stintzi, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country.
Breaking a personal record on the hilly course at Liberty University and receiving an All-Conference award, was something Russell had hoped for but not expected.
"It's amazing! I felt strong in the race but have to admit I'm a bit surprised to run a PR on a course like this," said a smiling Russell.
Russell's strategy was to stick to the top 15 and finish in the top 12 to receive the All-Conference award. She felt good despite the steep hills and the fast pace, pushed through the wall and brought home seventh-place.
"When I got to the end, that was it. I collapsed after the finish line. I was concentrating so hard in the race. I'm mentally and physically drained but happy," explained Russell.
The average time for Charleston Southern was 20:28. The second Buccaneer to finish was another newcomer, Taylor Barnes. Barnes crossed the finish line in 20:18 (33rd), only two seconds off her personal record.
"I wanted to run under 20 but I'm very satisfied with my performance on this course," said a cheerful Barnes.
Bethany Thornhill, a wildlife biology major, clocked 20:41 and was the 41st female to finish. She received a Big South Conference All-Academic award, due to her impressive performances in athletics and academics. Kaitlyn Keene ran 21:03 (47th) and finished right before Javenique McDowell (50th), who crossed the finish line in 21:22.
"The women did well overall! We were really close to a couple teams so we could have been higher up, but on the other hand, we could have done worse too," summarized Aaron Iaun, Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach.
High Point, Campbell, and Liberty were the top 3 teams in the women's 5k. The average times of all three teams dropped significantly under the 20-minute mark, a tough standard for the female Bucs to work towards.
"The performance today responded to what we thought was possible and realistic. Some people exceeded the goals and some were slightly off. Overall, the men's and women's teams were not afraid to run and did a great job in executing the race plan," concluded Stintzi.
The complete results from the Conference Championship can be viewed at http://results.tfmeetpro.com/Blue_Ridge_Timing__wwwblueridgetimingcom/2017_Big_South_Championships/
The Buccaneers will return to action at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship in Charlottesville, Va., Friday, November 10th.