Lauren Taylor | Echo
With broken records and 'stunning times, the Taylor men's and women's cross country teams have returned from the NAIA National Championships, with the women taking 5th place and the men finishing in 17th.
"We raced with courage and conviction," women's head coach Quinn White said. "We wanted to use our gifts to the fullest and leave the course making our Lord smile and our school proud."
All-American freshman Sarah Harden had a spectacular performance in the 5K race, finishing" with a stunning time of 18:00.0.
Not only was this the fastest individual time on the team this season, but it is also the third fastest ever seen in Taylor's history, behind redshirt junior Alex Berends and alumni Lolly York ('07).
Harden finished in twenty-third place out of 338 runners and was the second highest placing freshman in the race.
Junior Mae Elizabeth Gimre also had a very strong race, finishing in 34th place with a time of 18:12.
Harden shared that the source of their success was simply believing in themselves and knowing that they were capable of running well.
Another factor that led to the team's' success was the absence of watches. White instructed the team to run without wearing watches so they could focus on competing for place instead of time.
The women's team finished with an overall time of 92:31, setting a school record by 18 seconds.
In the men's 8K race, senior Stephen Cho led with an incredible 25-second personal record of 25:19. This is the top individual time on the men's team this season.
Senior Joe Beamish shared that the team was more excited about Cho's accomplishment than anything else.
"He's been extremely focused and left no stone unturned this season," Beamish said. "He executed the race perfectly."
Beamish also had a strong performance himself, finishing with a season record of 26:20.
"I left it all out there for the boys and Coach," Beamish said. "It was a good way to go out, by scoring well for TU one last time in XC."
As they conclude the season, the teams will be losing 10 senior runners: three from the women's team and seven from the men's.
Beamish shared that he is extremely grateful for his time with Taylor Cross Country and for the dedication of men's head coach Lance Vanderberg. He finished by saying he believes the team will excel even more in future years.
"Our team faced adversity this season and became stronger in the process," Vanderberg said. "It was exciting to see our program continue to move forward with our fourth top-20 finish in four years."
White also said that he is very proud of the cross country program.
"They have represented our school with excellence all season," White said. "These are great young ladies that love the Lord and love to use their gifts to the fullest."
The athletes will continue training throughout track and field this year and hope to improve even more in cross country next year.
"Photograph provided by Quinn White"