Photo Courtesy: SAU Athletics (Cheyenne Meyers)
SEARCY, Ark. (SAU) - The Southern Arkansas University Mulerider and Lady Mulerider cross country teams traveled to Searcy on Sat, April 6 to compete in the Harding Bison Challenge. Battling wind and a high heat index, these runners were determined to hang with some fierce D-I and D-II competition.
First up for the Lady Muleriders was freshman Virginia Ney in the 1500m (3.75 lap) race. Finishing in 4:55, Ney took second place in this event.
"Virginia was up against some of the fiercest competition she has seen this season," head coach Tim Servis said, "but her placement was perfect. I'm very proud of her performance, and I expect great things from her in the future."
Running the same event on the men's side, sophomore Kirby Shepherd cranked out a 4:17, crossing the finish line in fifth place. Shepherd finished the race strong, despite being pushed and spiked in the first lap.
Shepherd was the only Mulerider to compete in two mid-distance events in the same day. He went on to compete in the 800m race only thirty minutes later, finishing in 2:03.
"Kirby had two great races," Servis said. "He had some complications in the first race, and I could tell he was tired in his second race, but he pressed on. He has the heart of a champion, and I really admire that about him."
The Lady Muleriders then toed the line for the 5000m race. Carli Langley, sophomore and SAU women's 5k record holder, held on to first place for the entire race. Langley would go on to win the race with a time of 19:06. Ney followed in second place with a time of 19:33.
Freshman LaKresha James finished her 5k with a time of 21:23, followed by sophomore Michelle Beavers with a time of 21:39.
"Carli usually performs better under pressure," Servis said. "I hope that next week, she will have someone either in front of her or right next to her for most of the race to give her extra incentive. The rest of the ladies ran smart, but I expect to see improvements next week."
The men's 5000m was the last event of the day to feature the Muleriders. Sophomore Sam Grinnan finished with a time of 16:35, followed by freshman Garrett Wright in 16:45 and freshman Joel Pogue in 17:40.
"The placement was good in this race," Servis said. "There was a lot of fierce competition out there. We were up against experienced D-I runners, like those from the University of Central Arkansas, all the way to our conference rivals, like those from Harding. I'm confident that next weekend, the men will finish their final track meet with a bang."
The Mulerider and Lady Mulerider cross country teams will be back in action on Sat, April 13 in Commerce, Texas as they compete in their final track meet of the season at Texas A&M-Commerce.