The UCA cross country team crushed the competition at the annual Central Arkansas Cross Country Challenge
Sept. 8 at Conway’s Beaverfork Lake Park, finishing first in both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Coach Richard Martin said that his teams performed well in the muddy, humid conditions, especially considering that it was the first meet for the women’s team and the first meet for many freshmen.
“It was a good competition. I’m just glad the good Lord blessed us and it didn’t rain on us,” Martin said.
The course was a 1.5-mile loop that was mostly on grass, except for a few dirt areas. The conditions on the south end of the course were especially muddy from the previous day’s rain.
The men’s team finished the day with 19 points and took four of the top five spots.
Freshman Thomas Cain came in first with a time of 16:08.50, senior Brock Collins came in second with a time of 16:19.87, freshman Hunter Henderson came in fourth with a time of 16:38.09 and junior Jared Hamilton finished fifth with a time of 16:43.19.
“It was a good race. Our main strategy was to work together as a team,” Collins said.
He added that the adverse conditions were welcome, and made the track a “true cross country course.”
The women’s team ended the meet with 24 points and picked up two of the top five spots. Senior Taylor Dunn finished second with a time of 19:05.32 and senior Alejandra Ruiz finished fifth with a time of 19:17.17.
Eleven teams competed in the women’s division. In the women’s division, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock finished in second with 61 points, John Brown University finished in third with 87 points and Oral Roberts finished fourth with 98 points.
Ten teams competed on the men’s side of the challenge. In the men’s division, UALR finished second with a score of 66 points, JBU finished third with a score of 85 points and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff finished fourth with a score of 95.
The victories also added to UCA’s lead over UALR in the Governor’s I-40 Showdown Rivalry, which was established Aug. 17 by the athletic departments of both universities.
After the victories at Beaverfork, UCA stands at 8.5 points and UALR at 1.5.
Cain said he had his shoe clipped off for the first quarter mile, and had to stop to adjust it mid-race. Despite the setback, he still managed to take first place.
“The goal was to go out there and win the meet as a team, so we definitely went out and accomplished that,” Cain said. “We ran as a pack for the first two miles or so before me and Brock split off.”
A week before the first home meet, the men’s team had success in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Brooks Memphis Twilight XC Classic at the Mike Rose Complex, finishing fourth overall with UCA senior Marcus Schweikert finishing in first place.
Photo by Taylor Sone