New Bevill State head cross country coach Chad Balentine has not shied away from tough competition as the Lady Bears have opened their season against two fields of four-year universities in meets at Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
The Lady Bears, the only community college participating in both meets, finished sixth in the team standings on Saturday at the Mississippi State Cross Country Invitational and 12th at the Fleet Feet/Earl Jacoby Memorial Cross Country Invitational at UAH on Sept. 12.
Downpours over the weekend delayed the start of and almost canceled Saturday?s meet after the MSU course was heavily flooded with almost six inches of rain. University officials were able to move the meet at the last minute to the track at the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville so that the runners could compete.
Bevill State?s top individual finisher on Saturday was freshman Abby Barnett of Jasper with a time of 24:04 in the five-kilometer race to finish 34th overall. Freshman Krystal Gibbs of Falkville was next for the Lady Bears in 37th place with a time of 24:59.
Freshman Jasmine Hilts ran a time of 25:48 to finish 41st overall, with freshman Ilene Martin taking 44th in 27:40, and teammate freshman Tineka Moses one spot behind to round out Bevill State?s top five finishers with a time of 27:47.
At UAH, Barnett was again the top individual finisher for BSCC in 68th place with a time of 24:20. Gibbs was second for the squad in 75th at 26:27, with Hilts in 77th at 27:27.
Moses ran in 29:41 for 80th, and sophomore Jozlyn Varnedoe rounded out the top five finishers for the Lady Bears in 82nd with a time of 30:17.
Others competing for the squad in the UAH meet included sophomore Brittany Franklin (33:03) and freshman Amber Stearns of Hamilton (34:48).
?The only way to be the best is to prepare against the best,? Balentine said. ?Both of these meets were a real test for us competing against four-year universities. We are not where we need to be right now in our preparation, but we made some improvement from the first meet to the MSU meet, and that is encouraging.
?Our efforts are focused on being the best we can be against whomever we run with so that we are ready for the state championship meet.?
The Lady Bears will return to action on September 30 at the Gadsden State Invitational.