Nov. 11, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The women's cross country team finished off their season Friday morning at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships. Sophomore Mark Manion accompanied the women and competed in his race as an individual. The increased distances of 6K for the women and 10K for the men posted more of a challenge in the post season meet. The women were able to finish with an impressive 12th place finish out of 19 teams and Manion ranked 121st out of 125 runners.
Sophomore Paige Callahan led the team as she has done all season. Her time of 21:50.74 earned her 22nd place out 134 runners and a spot in the Top 25 all while fighting through a cramp. That time broke her previous 6K record she posted in the first meet of the season. Her performance also beat last year's performance by 45 places and over a minute.
"Coach told me halfway through the race that I was in 27th," said Callahan. "I had a cramp during the race, and I didn't think that I could do it. By the end when he told me I was at 25, I just told my body to go. I'm not giving up, I'm so close. I'm not going to settle. It was really exciting. It was definitely one of my goals all season."
Callahan's second season with the Green Wave has been remarkable. At the Disney Classic in Orlando, she took home first place out of 232 runners leading the team to second place. Her performance earned her C-USA's Co-Cross Country Athlete of the Week. Callahan also set a personal best time over 5 kilometers in the C-USA championships in addition to the 6K record she just set. With two years left in the Green and Blue, the young runner will continue her growth and improvement.
"I had a huge improvement from last year," she said. "It was a really good season. I improved my times a lot. My places, I definitely improved those. And racing on some of the same courses, I improved on those performances as well."
"She's been very fit and competitive and has improved a ton," says Head Coach Eric Peterson. "It puts an exclamation mark on her season. She led our team all year, and she finished it off with the best race of the season."
As for next season, Callahan is already setting goals.
"I definitely want to go to nationals.," she said. "I think that's a reachable goal. I just want to continue training right and listening to my body because no one else knows what works for you."
The women's finish is their best since 2007 when they earned 9th place. Much of that success was due to the senior veterans and consistent numbers two and three on the team, Katherine Crabtree and Emmi Aguillard. Crabtree was the team's second fastest runner on Friday with her time of 22:59.27 and a 60th place finish. Aguillard finished right behind her in 63rd place and a 23:03.04 time. Both improved from their performances from last year.
"On a team standpoint, we were not going to be successful without those two seniors," said Peterson. "It took them both two or three races to find their role on the team. Once that was established, they've been very consistent. They are as much responsible the strong team result at the end of the season."
The team's sole freshman, Mikayla Sonneborn, took 79th place and ran the long distance in 23:25.38. Junior Aimee Arceneaux finished the team with 24:57.04 and taking 125th place. Junior Callie Turlington was unable to complete race due to heat exhaustion similar to what happened in Alabama just a few weeks ago.
"We went into this hoping to place in the Top 15 in the region," said Peterson. "Especially not being able to count Callie Turlington because she couldn't finish the race, for the team to place as high as we did, it really is a positive statement about the level of improvement the team is experiencing right now."
According to both Peterson and Callahan, much of the team's success was due to the positive team dynamic.
"This has been the best social team dynamic that we've had," said Peterson. "It's a very positive team they all have a really good outlook on their training on their training and approach to racing."
"We had really good workouts this season," agreed Callahan. "Everyone was there and in it during the workouts. That helps me because it's nice to have training partners. I think everyone was decently happy with their season."
Manion finished in just 121st place, but it doesn't take away from the stunning season he has had all year. Manion was able to take first place in the Screamin' Eagle Festival back in September leading the team to a victory there. The sophomore was also able to lead the team and be a mentor for the multiple freshmen on the team.
"We've got a lot of work with the men's program to get them to grow and mature as athletes," Peterson said. "It's good exposure. They have a much better understanding of what's required to compete at Division 1 level"
"We've got some great pieces to build on moving forward. A very strong front runner in Paige and young talent in Mikayla and Callie. Our focus is on bringing in several new athletes. I think the future's very bright."
"I think we did pretty well, a lot of people improved," said Callahan of the season.
"We definitely need some new recruits. I'm hopeful for that, hopeful to have some strong dedication. With Coach Peterson only coming in like three years ago, we can build up the team with a new mentality. I'm excited. I love having new freshmen."
Peterson and the runners now begin to prepare for the upcoming track and field season.
You can follow the Green Wave cross country/track and field program on Twitter (@GreenWaveTkFld) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TulaneXCTF.
Place/Adj. - Name - 5K Time
23/23 - Paige Callahan - 21:50.74
60/56 - Katherine Crabtree - 22:59.27
63/58 - Emmi Aguillard - 23:03.04
79 /73 - Mikayla Sonneborn - 23:25.38
125/112 - Aimee Arceneaux - 24:57.04
Place/Adj. - Name - 10K Time
121 - Mark Manion - 35:58.58