Dalton State Women Finish Strong At UTC Twilight Meet
Sunday, September 15, 2019
The Dalton State Lady Roadrunners competed Friday evening in a rare local meet hosted by The University of Tennessee–Chattanooga. Even more rare was the fact that it was a 4K (2.5 miles) race – a little shorter than the standard 5K distance of most meets. With half the competing schools representing NCAA Division I programs, it was very competitive day. If you want to run faster, they say, go run with someone faster than you. The Roadrunners were up for the challenge.
Also competing was fellow conference rival, and last year's SSAC champion, William Carey.
The Lady Crusaders inspired the Lady Roadrunners to give all they had in hopes of drawing a little closer to their conference foe. And they rose to the occasion.
The great and former SSAC Scholar Athlete of the Year, Nayeli Jacobo, held the school record for the 4K distance and it was in serious jeopardy on Friday night. As it turned out, no less than three Roadrunners ran faster than the previous record time.
Leading the way was freshman Kathryn Vradenburgh, who finished 11th overall in a very fast time of 14:39, which bested the next fastest NAIA time by nearly a minute. Finishing with a strong kick at the end of the race, junior Kay Vradenburgh was the second Dalton State finisher (33rd overall) at 15:58. Kathryn and Kay have been the first and second finishers for the Roadrunners in all three races this year.
Battling hard to regain the third position on the team and finishing faster than the previous school record, sophomore Rachel Ward finished 11 seconds behind Kay (37th overall) in 16:09. Fighting for every second behind Rachel was fellow sophomore Alex Gass who finished in 16:46 in 53rd place overall.
Not far behind Alex were redshirt junior Ana Karen Padilla (16:51, 55th place) and freshman Kate Roberts (16:59, 56th place). Both had their best races of the year. Freshman Mari Morales came through the finish chute not far behind them in 17:21, which was good for 59th place overall.
The most exciting news came when the team results were unveiled. The Roadrunners managed to finish 6th overall, one spot ahead of William Carey.
Comments From Coach Dean Thompson:
"I say it every time we race, but I'm so proud of this team. When the gun goes off, they battle hard. Of course, I get to see how hard they work day in and day out. When I see that hard work pay off, it makes me feel so good for them."
"Kathryn continues to be very consistent. You know what to expect from her, and those expectations are very high, and she delivers every time. Being able to run near the front of a quality field like this is huge for her and for our program. She has one of the strongest mental games of any athlete I know."
"Kay is so awesome. There will never be another athlete who beats Kay because they work harder than she does. I love watching the hard work manifest itself on race day with the focus and drive of a warrior. You know you'll get the best Kay has every day. No coach could ask for more."
"Rachel ran better than last week. She was disappointed with her performance a week ago, so to watch her come back this week and run faster than the school record was great to see. She has worked harder than I have ever seen her work this year and it is paying off."
"Alex didn't have her best stuff today for a combination of reasons. But it didn't stop her from pulling out the best she had for the day. You find out a lot about someone when things aren't going as well as they hoped. If you were there, you would have seen excellence of character in Alex as she ran hard all the way to finish despite not being her best (which was still pretty good!)."
"AK is getting back to being AK. Each week, she takes a step toward being the cross country runner she was a few years ago. She has gone through some tough valleys in the past two years, but she is hiking her way back to the top of the mountain. I know she will be there when it counts."
"Kate had such a great race! Every week, she takes a huge leap forward and this week was her largest leap. Kate is dedicated to being the best she can be and comes to practice every day with the intention of being better than yesterday. She is a great example of what a positive attitude can do for a runner."
"Mari ran well. It is easy to think she didn't because nearly everyone else ran so well in comparison. Mari is a warrior and she is getting better each week. She is one of those championship racers. When it comes time to lay it on the line for all the marbles, I know she is going to be right in the middle of the battle."
"From a team perspective, it would be crazy for me to expect anything better than where we are right now. The best part is that I know these girls have it in them to be so much better. They will keep working and I expect some pretty big things from this group. Obviously, beating William Carey today was a big deal for our program, but it doesn't mean much unless we do it when it counts at our conference championship in November. There is still a lot of running to do between now and then. Those ladies at William Carey are going to get much better over that time. They're a great group of well-coached athletes and now they're motivated even more to beat us next time. It will be a tough, hard fought, road."
The Lady Roadrunners get some much needed rest over the next week and will begin preparing for the next battle. They will hit the course again in two weeks at the West Georgia Opener on September 27. The meet is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.