Written by: Steven Walters
The women’s cross-country team, more than half of which are freshmen, has held a spot inside the top 10 for the Division II Southeast Region for five straight weeks and will have a chance to continue the streak at home on Oct. 22.
“I feel like that’s rare to get an entire group of new folks to come in and completely buy into the program, but I feel like our men and women have done that,” said Steve Cary, head coach of both GC cross-country teams.
Last year the Bobcats finished 13th in a Southeast region that included past champions Montevallo, Wingate and Queens. Going into the Peach Belt Conference Championship on Oct. 22, they have the opportunity to finish in the top 10 in the region, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2013. Leading the freshman class are Kaitlyn Griffith, Grace Lynch and Anna Tipton, all of whom have impressed early. Griffith, from Cumming, Georgia, and Tipton, from Hartwell, Georgia, both posted 5K personal records at the Queens Royals XC Challenge with times of 19:31 and 19:05 respectively.
Lynch, hailing from Lawrenceville, Georgia, finished 20th overall in the Bobcat Invitational to start the season. “My goals are to just continue what I’ve been doing,” Griffith said. “Try to stay in the top percentage of the team, [and] helping my team to achieve our goals that we set earlier in the season to be within atleast the top half or top 25 percent of our meets.”
The freshmen have been impressive in their own right, but it has been the leadership of upperclassmen Brittney Schwind, Rebecca Winslow and Katherine Yost that has helped them adjust to the college level of running. Yost has led the team performance-wise, winning the Bobcat Invitational and breaking the school’s 5K record. Winslow and Schwind have led by example, doing whatever is needed for the team.
Cary said that the young runners look up to the example that these three set. “Especially since I’m really young to the sport, I’ve only been running for little bit over a year, really that guidance and especially the confidence that [the upperclassmen] have in me has really made me want to strive to be the best that I can,” Lynch said.
The team finished eighth in the PBC Championship last year, but has its sights set further this season, currently ranked fifth in the PBC. Cary not only wants to see his team succeed, he wants them to take their success and build on it.
“I’m tired of finishing eighth, and I’m tired for these ladies to finish eighth. I don’t want to go out and have a solid year this year, and just kind of rest on that and just stay there and get stagnant. I want them to push themselves, improve [and] have the same mindset that they’re carrying throughout this season,” Cary said.
The Bobcats will be back in action at 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 22 as they host the PBC cross-country championships.
(Feature image by: GC Communications)