By Carlos Rodriguez |
The Augusta University men’s cross-country team finished ninth and junior Micah Weathers of the women’s team finished 44th at the NCAA Division II Championship in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 23, rewriting the record book for the Jaguars.
Weathers’ top-50 performance set the record for the highest individual finish in school history. The previous highest finish was junior Hunter Kimball’s 55th-place finish in last year’s championship in Pittsburgh. Weathers was four spots off of all-American honors.
“I know there’s more I could improve on so my placement will be better in the future,” Weathers said.
Weathers finished the 6-kilometer race in 21 minutes and three seconds, which breaks her school record and previous personal best of 21:42.
“The experience was a blessing,” Weathers said. “The energy of this race was so high. There were so many people there and their cheers never stopped. I feed off the crowd’s cheers so much; it helped me to keep pushing.”
AU Coach Adam Ward was happy with the result.
“Micah ran an outstanding race,” Ward said. “She started fast and kept moving up and gave it her all. She has a bright future for track and next cross-country season.”
The men’s ninth-place finish was the highest team finish in school story. The previous best was the men’s 23rd-place finish at the 2017 national championship.
“My reaction was a little bit of shock and excitement combined,” Ward said.
Ward believed what helped the AU men do so well was staying patient.
“We were 26th at mile one and just moved up and up the whole race,” he said. “It is a great feeling to be one of the best in the nation and know we bring everyone back.”
Junior Jacob Poston was the top finisher for the Jaguars, coming in 48th, which marks now the second highest individual finish in school history and best individual men’s finish. Poston finished the 10-kilometer race in 30:57, which broke his school record and previous personal best of 31:05.
Poston, who raced in his third consecutive national championship, improved on his last year’s place of 195th.
“I readjusted my training and really got down to what I had to do to not have a relapse of last year,” Poston said.
The Dawson County High School product believes this year’s team compared to the previous years had not only better talent but better chemistry.
“Next year is going to be a huge year for us,” he said. “If we carry the momentum into track and have a good summer, I believe we can be a competitive team and maybe even come away with a podium finish.”
Junior Chase Kennedy finished 58th for AU, while graduate student Jacob Burgamy finished 77th and junior Chandler Kennedy in 86th. Sophomores Kai Brickey and Hans Troyer finished 126th and 220th, respectively. Kimball, a junior integrated studies major, was spiked and fell about 90 percent of the way through the race, causing him to not to finish.
“It was the most intense races I’ve ever raced in my life,” Chase Kennedy said. “When we first got off the plane, it was immediately evident that we were here for one reason and that was to take care of business.”
Ward has great expectations for the Jags cross country teams in the future.
“We need to get our women’s team back to the NCAAs with the men,” Ward said. “We need to build a consistency of making the NCAAs and working our way into the top 10 year in and out. That takes hard work and dedication to the team and your training.”
Adams State won the team title in the women’s race, dominating the field and beating Grand Valley State 23-87. The individual winner was Adams State sophomore Stephanie Cotter, who finished in 19:15.
Colorado School of Mines took the team title in the men’s race over Adams State 57-136. The individual winner was freshman American International College’s Ezra Mutai, who crossed the line in 29:31.
AU was the only PBC team on the men’s side, but region foe Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., finished just ahead of the Jags in eighth place. Mount Olive, another region foe, finished 15th.
On the women’s side, Flager College was the only PBC team and they finished 33rd. Region foes Queens and Wingate finished 21st and 31st, respectively.
The AU men’s team won the Peach Belt Conference championship and finished second in the Southeast regional. Weathers won the PBC individual crown and finished third in the regional. Indeed, it was the greatest season in the history of the AU cross country program. And Coach Adam Ward’s men have now been to three straight nationals.
Contact Carlos Rodriquez at email@example.com.