By Sarah Turner, Sports editor
The University of Montevallo’s cross country team competed at the UAH Invitational on Oct. 7. The men’s team finished in 20th place out of 44 teams and the women’s team finished in 21st place out of 41 teams.
The men’s team top finisher was senior Drew Roberts, clocking a time of 25:19.20 through 8k. He finished in 66th place out of 430 runners. The women’s team top finisher was junior Natalie Warner, finishing the 5k in a time of 19:03.20. She finished 83rd out of 355 competitors.
Coaches and team members said they didn’t feel like they had their best showing in Huntsville.
“We had so much left on both sides,” said head coach Tommy Barksdale after the race, “everybody knows we left something out there today, but at the same time, everybody seems to be saying if this is our bad race, it’s not that bad of a race.”
The Falcons came into Huntsville after a long, tough period of training in between this race and their last, the Falcon Classic, which took place on Sept. 15 at UM’s home course.
“Today was a good test of what the course feels like,” said senior team captain Ana Watters.
Watters was the third place finisher for the Falcons, coming in 164th place overall in a time of 20:09.60.
The Falcons will head into a two-week training block before returning to Huntsville on Oct. 21 for the 2023 Gulf South Conference Championship.
“We’re all kind of ready just to go back into it and have a big breakthrough,” said Watters, “we’ve had a lot of weeks of tough training so we’re ready for it to pay off.”
Barksdale described the team’s current state as replacing a lightbulb, turning the bulb so many times, the light is just about to come on and the team is right on the edge of something big.
“We are at a quarter of a turn of a lightbulb and we’re gonna be beating a lot of people” said Barksdale, “it’s just when is that gonna happen?”
After the conference championship, the Falcons will return home for likely their last race of the season, as the hosts of the NCAA Division II South Regional Championship.
“It means a lot [to host],” said Barksdale, “we get to sleep in our own beds, get to showcase our course.”
Located behind the track and field and baseball facilities, the Montevallo home course was the host of last year’s Gulf South Conference Championship, and this year will see some of the best competition in the South and Division II cross country race for the Regional Championship.
“The teams, both men and women, are proud and happy that we have a course on campus,” said Barksdale.
The team is looking to get to work ahead of these two major races, and is hoping to put out a good showing to represent the university. The Falcons are counting on the support of other UM students to show up for the regional meet to help them finish strong. Watters said she hopes it “shows that our school is super supportive, it’ll show that we’re all one Falcon Nation.”