Article by: Colin Gowin
The Blackburn College Cross Country Teams were in action Saturday, October 31 in Hillsboro, Ill. for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships. It was a cold, wet and windy day on a fast course which seen many of Blackburn’s runners record new personal best times.
The morning started with the women’s six kilometer (3.7 miles) race at 10:30 am. This is the first year Blackburn has had a full women’s team since the first season head coach Mark Hopping was at Blackburn in 2010. The team was led by junior Kaitlyn Pugh who beat her previous personal best by two and a half minutes. The team was rounded out by senior Allison Matt, senior Heidi Tyson, senior Sarah Collman and sophomore Makayla Grove. “For an inexperienced group of runners, the women ran extremely well and made me proud to be their coach,” said head coach Mark Hopping.
The men’s eight kilometer (five miles) race started at 11:20 am. The Beavers front four (sophomore Tim Lacy, freshman Jacob Thornton, senior Nathan Speckhart and sophomore Zach Felkel) all ran sub six-minute miles for the entirety of the race and were within 30 seconds of each other. Tim Lacy led the charge for Blackburn with a time of 28:30. Sophomore Noah Daum finished fifth for the Beavers, which rounded out the top five and the scoring for Blackburn. Sophomore Rob Wingerter, senior Colin Gowin and senior Nathan Wagner followed the top five in that order. The top five average time was 29:16 which is a 1:29 faster than last season’s 30:45. Coach Mark Hopping is excited about the future of the team as only one of the top five runners from this season closing race will be graduating this spring. “We have continued to improve our overall top five time this year and our 29:16 average is one of the best that Blackburn has seen in the past ten years,” said Hopping.
With the season coming to an end, Blackburn will be forced to say goodbye to their senior runners. Seniors on the women’s team are: Allison Matt, Sarah Collman, Heidi Tyson, Catherine Young and Elizabeth Meehan. The men’s seniors are Nathan Speckhart, Nathan Wagner, and Colin Gowin. “I’m going to deeply miss them, not just being members of this team, but also seeing them around campus. These seniors are part of our family and things aren’t the same when family members are missing,” said Mark Hopping.