Notes on the SSAC Tournament
By Susan McIntyre, Brenau Golden Tigers Cross Country Coach
The team’s performance this past weekend was incredible. The girls went to the race with the mind set of giving it everything they had. Conference is all mental because you have trained physically all season for this moment, and now you have to push yourself to give more than 100 percent. I was so proud of my team when the SSAC commissioner looked at me at the results table and told me Brenau won by one point. That was when I knew my girls gave it everything they had. The odds were against us, but could our heart and soul push us to the top? The answer was YES!
The first five girls on your team to cross the finish line determine your score. (You add up the place numbers of the top five finishers on your team.) If you have a tie, you will add the finish place of your sixth runner. Our score was 58 points, just one point lower than the Blue Mountain College team. The race win came down to our #5 runner because the #4 runner from Blue Mountain was leading. But our #5 runner would finish four places ahead of Blue Mountain’s fifth place runner. This meant our top seven runners would advance to nationals instead of our top four runners who qualified by their personal place in the race.
Who was our #5 runner? Freshman Tori Mullinax. Earlier this season, Tori’s hamstring locked up, and she hasn’t raced since. For the last 4-5 weeks, she has been swimming with her head above water and a float between her legs, stoking on a tandem and slowly built to intense training on the elliptical. Many athletes get depressed and give up when they can’t train the way they are used to, but not Tori. She was committed to keeping her cardio level high even though she couldn’t use her legs. Slowly she started back running, but we could only build a base, not intensity. The week before the conference meet Tori was able to run, but we didn’t know how fast she would be able to go. So, Tori’s performance at conference was incredible! She was able to finish fifth on the team, breaking her personal record by one second. And, she helped qualify the team for nationals.
The other six runners from our team who finished out our top seven had many accomplishments throughout the season. We have four runners in 19s and four girls that run in the 20s. We have depth that we have never had before. Last year we had two people running in the 19s and not a lot of strength behind those two runners. Our top seven runners have accomplished 21 personal best times this season. The team of 14 runners has accomplished 35 personal best times this season.
We have a young team that does what it takes to be a champion! Our team has bonded by training together, studying together, eating together, stretching together… . This team helps each other out so we can accomplish so much. We believe that we are a “family.” The “family” feeling on this team and the want to be a champion is the biggest difference about our team this year.