Photo: The Gadsden State men and women’s cross country teams will compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championships on Saturday, November 11 in Huntsville. Pictured, kneeling, from left: Lacey Rich, Jordan Clark, Lexi Byrd, Keira Johnson, McKinley Kay, Gabrielle More. Standing, from left: DeShaun Foster, Ashton Vann, Lane Griffin, Jonah Medders, Conner Strawn, Travis Cooley. (Courtesy of Gadsden State)
The Gadsden State men and women’s cross country teams will compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championships on November 11 at the John Hunt Park in Huntsville. The men’s 8K will run at 2:30 p.m. with the women’s 5K following at 3:30 p.m.
“I’ve been very pleased with the success we have had in our second year of competition,” said Gadsden State head coach Roseanne Green. “Both the men’s and women’s teams have been ranked among the Top 20 programs in the country this season. The women have remained in the Top 25. I’m so proud of their performance.”
The Lady Cardinals are currently ranked 22nd in the NJCAA Division II coaches poll. Other ranked Alabama community colleges are Wallace State at No. 5, Shelton State at No. 16 and Calhoun at No. 18.
“We have a high level of talent in our state among cross country runners,” said Green. “We may be new to competing at the community college level, but we’ve proven to be very competitive.”
At the Alabama Community College Conference Region 22 Cross Country Championships on Oct. 27 in Huntsville, the GSCC women finished in fourth place in the 5K run behind Wallace State, Shelton State and Calhoun. Gadsden State sophomore Jordan Clark finished sixth overall with a time of 21:04.95. For the second consecutive year, Clark was named to the ACCC All-Conference Team, which consists of the race’s top eight runners.
Freshman Lexi Byrd just missed the Top 20 at the regional competition at 21st with a time of 22:43.73. Lacey Rich, a sophomore from Southside, finished 25th with a 23:12.7. Other Gadsden State runners competing in a race with 58 females include Gabrielle More (27th, 23:20.87), Keira Johnson (29th, 23:25.38) and McKinley Kay (35th, 24:45.57).
The GSCC men finished in sixth place behind Wallace State, Marion Military Institute, Northeast Alabama, Coastal Alabama and Calhoun. The top Gadsden State runner in the 8K run was freshman Lane Griffin, who finished 15th with a time of 28:30.84. Sophomore Ashton Vann finished 29th with a time of 29:44.06, while Conner Strawn placed 32nd with an even 30 time. Also competing for the Cardinals were DeShaun Foster (46th, 31:05.8), Jonah Medders (50th, 31:48.4) and Travis Cooley (60th, 32:06.5). There were 90 runners in the men’s division.
“To finish fourth and sixth against really strong community college teams in our conference is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of our runners,” Green said. “They work really well together and have so much determination. Our cross country teams prove that success is the reward of hard work and unwavering commitment.”
“This early season race is a great indicator of the progress a runner gains during their summer training block,” Green said. “They worked really hard this summer, and it showed. Both teams really competed well throughout the season. At each race, the men and women’s teams finished as one of the top community college teams while finishing faster than many four-year institutions throughout the state.”
Three Gadsden State runners will compete in the NJCAA Division II Half Marathon Championships on November 14 in Huntsville.
“These runners have been training hard for this race,” said Green. “I’m confident that they will do well.”