Dalton State Lady Roadrunners Finish 4th At SSAC Track & Field Championships
Sunday, April 21, 2019 - by Erik Simpson
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - As usual the Lady Roadrunners came up big when it counted. With a team of only 10 athletes, they managed to place fourth in the SSAC Track and Field championship. Finishing with 71 points, they were only 9 points from third place and edged out fifth place Brewton-Parker by 4 points. It was a weekend full of personal records and a couple of school records.
On Friday the weather was crazy as the participants battled wind, cold, rain and then sun all in the span of two hours.
The Roadrunners only participated in one event on Friday, but they came on strong in the 10,000 meters.
The race features 25 laps of the track. One can get dizzy just watching. Junior Ana Karen Padilla, running in her third consecutive 10K Championship race, started strong and kept going. Her second-place finish was fast enough to cut 43 seconds from the school record when she finished in 42:37. It was more than two minutes faster than either of her previous attempts.
Also finishing on the podium was freshman Reagan Guess who ran a 44:18, not far off her personal best. Finishing fourth for the Roadrunners was freshman Alex Gass who ran over a minute faster than her previous best. Her time of 44:51 would have been good enough to win the event just two years ago.
Finishing sixth overall was sophomore Morgan King who cut over 50 seconds from her personal best when she finished in 47:13. It was a good first day as the Lady Roadrunners scored 24 points in the event.
The first event on Saturday was the lone filed event in which the Lady Roadrunners would complete. Anna Bramblett threw the Discus 23.30 meters, good for a school record and a 10th place finish.
The first running event of the second day was the 3,000 Meter Steeplechase. Possessing the second fastest qualifying time and running with purpose, Ana Karen Padilla took the race to the field and ran away with a near school-record 12:33. She was more than 30 seconds faster than second place. That gave AK 18 points for the team by herself.
Running in only her second Steeplechase event, Morgan King ran a personal record and stepped up to the podium with her third-place finish. Rebecca Poe, running bravely on a bum foot, finished fourth for the Lady Roadrunners.
The 1500 Meter Run featured the fastest field in years and the Lady Birds sent sophomore Kay Vradenburgh and junior Hayley Hight to the line to battle for conference supremacy. Although their finishing times would have been second and third a year ago, they had to settle for fifth and sixth. But each ran a huge personal best with Kay cutting four seconds from her fastest time (5:08 for fifth), and Hayley cutting a whopping 16 seconds from her personal best when she finished in 5:10 (sixth). The times were good enough to make them the third and fourth fastest 1500 meters runners in school history.
The next event on the schedule was the 800 meters. Freshman Rebecca Poe and sophomore Jenniser Rivera ran third and fourth in their heat, both finishing in 2:51. They finished 11th and 12th overall.
The next event was the 5,000 meters where the Roadrunners would send four sets of tired legs to the line in the form of Hayley Hight, Kay Vradenburgh, Reagan Guess, and Alex Gass. Even though each had run their legs off in previous events, the results were fantastic! Hayley Hight cut 21 seconds from her personal best when she ran 20:04, good for the third spot in the race. That time would have won last year's race. Finishing in fourth place with at time of 20:26 was Kay Vradenburgh. Not far behind Kay, was Reagan Guess running her personal best time of 20:34 and finishing fifth. Alex finished seventh in 21:39, her second best 5K ever on the track.
The team of Reagan Guess, Morgan King, Alex Gass, and Ana Karen Padilla finished the meet with a fifth place overall 4X400 relay.
Coach Dean Thompson on his team's performance this weekend, "What a great way to finish the year. I am humbled by what these ladies achieved this weekend. The competition in the meet was much stronger than last year. It included three teams that were not even at the meet a year ago. Still, they managed to finish in fourth place as a team. I was inspired by the effort of these ladies this weekend. They have been through a lot. Many have battled nagging injuries, but they came through when it was time to put it on the line."
"There have been some great stories out of this group. Several of them have come a long a way since the fall. AK couldn't even run in the fall and came home with a conference championship and a second-place finish. Hayley cut more than a minute from her 5K time and over 20 seconds from her 1500 time a year ago. Reagan has come so far it's scary to think of what she can do in the future since she is only a freshman. Kay has been her usual solid self. I could go on and on."
"In addition, we were able to compete in field events this year for the first time. That was exciting, and it was great to see Anna perform her best at the most important meet. We had some who were banged up but would have been big contributors. The future looks bright."
"Most of all, these ladies represent Dalton State Athletics with class and a great attitude. I'm so proud of how far they have come athletically, but I'm even more proud of who they are as people. I never had a biological daughter, but if I had, I would have wanted her to be like any one of these ladies. I am so blessed by the one and only true God to have the opportunity to work with such a great group of ladies."
The ladies will add a few more to their ranks and begin working toward a great cross country season in the fall. While most Dalton State students take the summer off, these ladies will be training hard.