N.J. -- The goal of competitive runners is to cross the finish
line in a time they can be proud of. But heading into the
season, Head Coach Erin Cahill had a different goal for Mercer's
first women's cross country team in twenty years - getting
to the starting line.
lacked enough numbers to compete as a full-scoring team. But
the two women who joined the squad, while short on past running
experience, made dramatic improvements over the course of
the season. Freshmen Graci Leal and Chikasimara Amu-Nnadi
ran personal bests at the Region 19 Championships on October
30 at Thompson Park in Lincroft, NJ, earning them Division
I All-Region honors, with Amu-Nnadi finishing 6th and Leal
finishing 7th in the Division I 5K race.
these runners made a major commitment to a new sport, improving
both their endurance and their form. Graci and Chika did whatever
I asked of them. They never complained about any workouts,
just pushed themselves to get better each time," Cahill
She observes that while physical fitness is the most obvious
benefit of running, training for meets is also a mental test.
"You have to be focused and dedicated to your goal."
In addition to the championships, the regular season included
four meets, in which Mercer competed with both two- and four-year
is optimistic about 2011, anticipating that both Leal and
Amu-Nnadi will return to run as sophomores. "I hope these
two girls will carry the success of the last meet into the
off-season and use it as an incentive to continue to train
for next year," she said.
also hopes to field a full-scoring team (five runners). She
has already heard from several current students who have expressed
interest in joining the squad next fall and will continue
vigorous recruitment efforts at area high schools.
year was about laying the foundation for future seasons and
getting the word out about Mercer women's cross country. We
may not have had a full scoring team, but we got to compete
and ended with two All-Region performances. I would call that
a success," Cahill said.
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