Ladies Take Silver at Regional Cross Country Championship
The Thunderbird Ladies warmed up for National Championships with an impressive showing at the Region I Championships in Casa Grande on Friday. When #1 ranked Central Arizona filled the first three positions with their Kenyan trio of Tanui, Lagat and Hbetamu, the fight for team honors seemed to be over. However, a spirited performance from Mesa's own Hailey Hanna and her teammates made for some anxious moments as the crowd awaited the official results.
"I thought the race went really well," said Hanna. "I found out what I needed to do for nationals. Since the top girls at nationals are in our region, I don't think I could be any more prepared than I am now."
In the end, the T-Birds were just seven points short of causing a major upset, but will be keen to renew the rivalry at the national meet next weekend.
Kyle Ehrke and Justin Royer were the MCC standouts in the men's race, winning All-Region Team awards. "Ehrke is running practically on talent alone," according to Coach Eamonn Condon. "He probably only started a quarter of our team workouts due to injury problems."
Unfortunately, Abdi Ismail was laid low on race day by a debilitating virus. In a season marred by health problems on the men's team, perhaps it was no surprise that Mesa's top performer of 2009 should succumb to illness on such a critical day. Ismail was a shadow of the runner he was at the Thunderbird Classic as he fought bravely to give Mesa a fourth place finish.
Royer was pleased with the run, but his eyes are already firmly trained on the next challenge: "Just like the Superbowl, NBA Finals, or World Cup Final... every practice, every time trial, every race was simply to prepare us for Nationals. It's why I ran 100 miles a week in the summer until my body shut down at times and it's why I showed up everyday for practice giving it my all mentally and physically. Each step and every minute of that training leads us to the race where we compete with the elites," said Royer.