by Matthew Blakeley, Student Sports Reporter
On Thursday September 24th, the men’s and women’s cross country teams battled it out with the Bears of the University of Pikeville in the 1st annual Black and Gold meet. The teams raced on the hilly 6k course at Bob Amos Park in Pikeville.
Freshman Jacob Medley experienced his first taste of victory on Thursday. Medley crossed the finish line in 20 minutes and 43 seconds. His average mile pace was at 5 minutes and 33 seconds, and he won the race by 51 seconds.
When asked to assess his performance, Medley said, “The start was fast. I tried pushing the pace from the beginning. I wanted to challenge the other runners mentally and physically. Two guys from UPike ran on my shoulder for the first half mile. I didn’t want them sucking on me, so I pushed the pace a little harder. They ended up not going with me once I cranked it up a notch. When I came to the final downhill and was able to see the finish line I said a thankful prayer for my first college win; well, my first ever cross country win. It was really exciting coming down that final stretch and hearing students from ALC, my coaches, and my grandparents cheering for me. It was a surreal feeling.”
Although neither the men nor women pulled out a team victory, they both competed extremely well. The men raced a 6k earlier in the month, and every runner set a 6k personal best in the Black Gold meet. Sophomore John Driskill finished 3rd on the team in his last race with a 27:10, but he finished second on the team with a 24:13 this time around. Zach Templeton came in 4th on the team in his last race running a 27:44, but he moved to the third spot on the team and ran a 24:23. Caleb Mills went from the team’s second man to the fourth man in the lineup, but still managed to beat his early season 26:53 by 1 minute and 9 seconds running a 25:44. Broderick Moore ran his first-ever race on Thursday and he impressively finished the race with a 29:13 time.
On the ladies side, freshman Brittney Buttrey was the first Eagle to come off of the hill and cross the finish line for the women. She completed the course in 24:37, and was the 2nd place overall finisher of the race. Senior Shiloh Jekel was the second Eagle team finisher, but was the overall 4th place finisher of a competitive female field. She ran a 27:15 finishing an impressive 32 seconds ahead of UPike’ s next female.
Coach Brandon Arnold had this to say about Thursday’s showing: “We did really well as a team especially for not having any idea about how the course was going to be laid out. Although we didn’t win the dual against Pikeville I was still very pleased with how everyone finished. Having the first runner to cross the finish line made me extremely proud. Then having the rest of the team finish so strong only made me even more proud of them. “Arnold added, “The team has been working extremely hard, and I believe it is paying off. Everyone is getting stronger and faster. I am excited to see how much more we will progress throughout the season.”
The Eagles are scheduled to race again on October 20th. The men and women will both be racing a 5k at Lykins Park in Winchester, Kentucky.