Dalton State Cross Country Takes First At Home Meet

Monday, September 21, 2020
The Lady Roadrunners invited some local teams and individual athletes to compete in a small, rare home meet. It was a treat for the locals who showed up to cheer for the hometown team on the relatively cool Friday evening. The Roadrunners did not disappoint as, along the way to the team victory, the top five runners shaved two minutes from the average of their previous meet.
In addition to the team win, sensational freshman Riley Jo Ford won her second race in as many tries clocking an impressive time of 19:13 on the rolling course.
She took the lead from the gun and never looked back, distancing herself by 13 seconds over the second place, unattached runner, SK Lipperd, who attends Covenant College.
Just coming back from some time off, last year's five-time SSAC Runner of the Week and conference championship runner up, sophomore Kathryn Vradenburgh took third place with a time of 20:07. It was an impressive performance considering the amount of time she has had to take off from running.
Junior Alex Gass come home in sixth place overall with a time of 20:26. It was another solid performance from Alex who consistently runs well. Just five seconds later, in seventh place, senior Kay Vradenburgh charged home with a much-improved performance over her first meet. The former SSAC Runner of the Week seems poised to have a great senior season.
Sophomore Kate Roberts set a personal best time of 20:45 when she crossed the line in 11th place overall. It was a spectacular race for Kate who surpassed her own expectations in the meet.
The sixth Roadrunner to cross the finish line was sophomore Rebecca Poe when she came home in 22:05, good for 12th place overall. She was a little too strong for the seventh Roadrunner, Kayla Mattox, to keep up with, though Kayla gave it all she had. She finished 15th overall in a time of 22:40.
Rachel Ward, another former SSAC Runner of the Week, finished 24th overall.
Comments from Coach Thompson

It is unusual for me to be surprised by how the ladies run. Part of our formula here is to have high expectations, and the ultimate expectations for this group are as high as they have ever been. Having said that, they really surprised me today. The times were a little faster than I thought they would be, but they looked so good doing it. I've never seen a Dalton State team look so strong from wire to wire.
Most people don't know about the setbacks we have had this year, but there have been substantial barriers, some of which we still have to scale. But today I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. And this comes at a time in our training when the ladies are tired from some tough workouts. I believe we are headed right where we thought we would be.
Riley looked so confident and strong running essentially by herself the entire distance. She runs with an aggressiveness you don't see too often. That was on full display today. Her time was faster than I had anticipated. If you want to see hard work, just watch this young lady run!
Kathryn has been nursing an injury for some time. She has only run a fraction of the mileage she normally runs, and the intensity of that mileage is way down too. For her to come out and run as well as she did was phenomenal. A 75% Kathryn is better than most ladies at 100%. If I know Kathryn, she will be back to full strength when it counts. I can't wait to see here and Riley pushing each other eventually.
Alex just runs hard. She is battling some things, different from Kathryn, but no less impactful. But no matter what she is going through, she battles as hard as she can. That is what has brought her from a mid 21s 5K runner her senior year of high school to a mid 19s runner a couple of years later. She is on her way back to where she wants to be. It will take a few weeks, but she will be there when it's important.
Kay had a great race. We were a little disappointed in her last race because I knew the fitness was there for a good race, but it didn't show on the course. Today, it showed. She looked incredibly strong for the entire distance and finished really well. I so want Kay to have a great year since this is her Senior year. She is on her way now!
Kate had such a great race and I was so tickled with her performance. We talked about a goal early in the week and she was skeptical, but she came out and exceeded both our expectations. Her confidence is building, as well it should, and we're going to see great things from Kate for the rest of the season.
I love Becca. She had a big smile on her face after today's race because she ran well. It was over two minutes faster than any other collegiate meet she has run. She has some big goals for the year, and I think she just realized that those goals are attainable now. I love to see that realization in an athlete!
Kayla gets better every week, and this week was no different. We have talked about what it is going to take for her to move to the next level and I saw major progress on that front today. Kayla will only get better with each successive meet, mark my words.
Rachel is making steady progress. She is working hard to get back where she was last year. Right now, she has a long way to go, but Rachel is a winner. She has helped build this program to where it is now and she is not going to stop contributing at this point. We will see a lot of improvement over the next couple of meets.
And we have Haley Tillery on the sidelines due to injury who will be a big part of this team eventually. The future looks bright!
One more thing. They ran well today, sure. But the most impressive thing about this team is their character. These ladies are positive, hard-working, great representatives of the community and the school. They spent hours on Thursday afternoon and evening working at a large local high school meet to ensure their meet went off well. I have received many comments about the job they did that night. And I would be remiss not to mention Bri Ray, who is a track athlete, but comes out and works to help the cross country team with anything they need to have a successful race.

The Lady Roadrunners are back in action in two weeks when they travel to Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, October 3 for the Louisville Classic.

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