The Bevill State cross country team competed in their final tuneup before the Region 22 championships, with some strong individual performances in the Jacksonville State University Foothills Invitational at Oxford Lake and Recreation Center on Saturday.
The squad finished 10th against a field of four-year universities with a total of 271 points, with Emory University taking first place, host JSU finishing second, and the University of West Alabama in third.
While the overall finish may not have been what Lady Bears head coach Chad Balentine would like to see, he had to be very pleased with the performance of his top two runners.
Freshman Abby Barnett of Jasper posted by far her best time of the year, running the five-kilometer race in 22:26, shaving well over a minute off her previous best. The time earned her 47th place, ahead of a large number of university runners.
Also posting her best time of the year was freshman Krystal Gibbs, running in 23:25 to finish in 59th place.
?Abby and Krystal both ran a great race and were in the middle of the pack with a lot of four-year runners,? Balentine said. ?Our whole team is continuing to make improvements in our form and in our conditioning, and it really showed on Saturday against some good competition.?
Jasmine Hilts was next for Bevill State, running in 25:15 to finish 75th. Jozlyn Varndoe finished in 28:42 for 85th place, and Amber Stearns rounded out BSCC?s scoring runners with a time of 30:52 to finish 90th.
Of course, Balentine wants his team to run strong against four-year competition, but it is all preparation for the squad?s next meet ? the Region 22 championship run in Gadsden on October 30.
?This was another good meet for us, another step forward with improvement,? said the first-year head coach. ?Now it?s time for us to spend the next three weeks bringing it all together, having really good practices, and preparing to run in the region meet.?