The Baker Orange

Cross country teams finish fourth, fifth at HAAC

Story by Larran Williams

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Expectations were high for the women’s cross country team as it went into the HAAC championship race Saturday, but the results at the end of the day fell short.

The women were expected to place in the top three at the conference race, but walked away with a fourth-place finish and no national qualifiers. Head coach Zach Kindler said the disappointing finish left him looking back to the season wondering what caused the women to fall behind.

“It’s not the fact that the ladies didn’t go out and put forth the best effort they possibly could, it was just that we were ranked a lot higher going in and we are trying to figure out right now what exactly went wrong,” Kindler said.

Sophomore Molly Schmeidler said the women put forth a strong effort, but fell to the pressures of facing the conference meet with a high ranking, a tough course and young team.

“I think everybody did OK, but nobody had that breakout day that you need at a conference race,” Schmeidler said. “We might have tapered a little too much this season and just got a little too stressed out before the race.”

Leading the way for the women in the 5K race was freshman Corinna Papps with a time of 22:15, followed by freshman Devin Freeman at 22:21 and Schmeidler at 22:25.

Schmeidler said the course itself served as an obstacle between the women’s team and its expectations for the race.

“It was like a mountain range back in there and I think it was just so taxing on the body that in the middle of the race everybody thought they would be more pumped up, but there was just nothing there,” Schmeidler said.

The men’s team finished fifth overall, a place that Kindler said he was pleased with.

“Place-wise with the guys we ended up pretty much where we were expecting,” Kindler said. “Finishing fifth place with all freshman guys out there, we were pretty excited about that.”

Leading the men’s team at the finish line was freshman Corey Clark, who recorded a time of 29:11 in the 8K race and finished two spots away from qualifying for nationals. Clark said he was happy with his performance, but disappointed he didn’t reach the qualifying mark.

“I was really disappointed that I was so close and didn’t get it, but again it’s my freshman year so I still have a few more years to hopefully get back in it,” Clark said.

Kindler said Clark’s effort and his strong finish as a freshman shows the potential he has in the upcoming years.

“Any time you are top 15 as a freshman in our conference that is a huge success,” Kindler said. “We are very excited for the way that he did, he has got a lot of great years ahead of him.”

With the season behind it, the cross country team has started practicing with the track team and is preparing for its yearly trip to run a half-marathon. The team will run in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 12.