Recap: DeLand's Stetson runners battle weather, competition at USF Invitational

DeLand -- Stetson Univ. runners in USF Invitational / Headline SurferPhoto for Headline Surfer / Samantha Hicks and Mathew Ady, Stetson University cross country runnerts, were among the participants in the USF Invitational.

TAMPA -- After a series of thunderstorms, two races were combined into one for 288 tightly packed runners over the weekend at the USF, including those from Stetson University like senior Mathew Ady.

“I loved it,” Ady said. “The mob scene helped me a lot. I came through the mile in 5:50, and I don’t think I’ve ever run a mile that fast. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Then, when I went through two, it was a pretty even split, so I knew I had it in me and that it would be a special race.”

“I loved it,” Ady said. “The mob scene helped me a lot. I came through the mile in 5:50, and I don’t think I’ve ever run a mile that fast. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Then, when I went through two, it was a pretty even split, so I knew I had it in me and that it would be a special race.”

Ady finished in 19:42, a minute under his previous best of 20:45, which he had run a week earlier at UNF.

“My thing about the 5K is that I never do well in the heat, so this race represented what might well be the last fast 5K that I ever run for the school," Ady explained. "I took that [Steve] Prefontaine mentality and ran hard from the start to the finish; I left nothing on the course. I was able to pick out people (ahead of me) to get.”

Ady’s description of his own race pretty much reflected what was going on all around him, and that, unfortunately, led to a minor problem. Runners in general, and good runners in particular, tend to tightly follow tangents from point to point, much like those of satellite-guided GPS devices.

When the leaders—Kevin Marindich and Elias Chesire of Florida A&M (both formerly of Eldoret, Kenya)—saw a tangent, they ran it.

And not wanting to lose an advantage, so did everyone else.

The wide open golf course offered lots of tangents. As a result, the runners lopped off huge chunks of course that affected the actual distance run. Afterwards, no one could be sure what they ran, but it definitely wasn’t 3.1 miles.

“It was kind of annoying that it might have been short,” Ady added, “but I extrapolated it in my mind and I think I still I had a 20 second PR. Now I know I can do it again.”

This being the first (and no doubt last) race at this particular “mystery distance,” in effect all 25 Stetson runners ran lifetime bests. (Humorous, but true.)

For the men, the top five of Andrew Epifanio (15:52), Joe Beery (16:10), Andrew Townes (17:18), Cody Malloy (17:20), and Ryan Hodgins (17:39) together scored 112 points to finish fifth among the Division I teams.

Also finishing for Stetson were Kyle Meerdo (17:58), Austyn Finnk (19:19), Ady, and James Welch III (20:00). The combined race helped the women, too.

In what has become the norm, Amanda Spring set the pace for the Hatters and ran 18:29. But wedged into second, and closing fast, was fellow freshman Samantha Hicks.

In the last 300 meters, Sami was reeling them in faster than we could count. Given more time—or the correct distance—there’s no telling how many more places she would have caught. Up in New England, this is what is known as “The Sami Show.”

“It’s something I do all the time,” Hicks explained. “I always try to finish as fast as I can. During my senior year in high school, my track coach and I worked a lot on speed. And it helps me at the end of the race when girls fall back.”

Hicks comes into the program amidst a lot of anticipation. In her sophomore year, she ran a 5K best of 18:17, which, if she can do it again, will put her in select company on the collegiate level. That has certainly been on her mind.

“I’ve never trained as hard as I am now,” she admitted. “So I’m hoping to start cutting seconds off my time. I’m hoping that I’ll keep getting better, and improving.”

In this race, she ran 18:49, and although no one can be certain of the actual distance, the fact that it is over a minute faster than her time trial—which she did after being on campus only a few days—it is definitely an indication that her times are on the way down.

“I’m pretty sure that this is as fast as I’ve run since my sophomore year in high school. That excites me because it’s my first race and I’ve only just begun to train.” And where will she be at season’s end?

“I’d really like to get down to the low to mid 18:30s, maybe even the 18:20s by the end of the year. It would be great to beat my PR, but that will take a lot of work.”

And that is a job that Samantha Hicks is really, really good at.

Rounding out the scoring for Stetson were Adrienne DeVita (18:55), Daniella Godenzi (19:31) and Sabrina Guzsvany (19:39).

The Stetson women’s team has its biggest squad in years, and this meet produced a total of 15 finishers for Hatters.

That list also includes Emily Nolen (19:44), Shelby Block (20:00), Trixi Menge (20:06), Jessica Cosgrove (20:08), Clarissa Consol (20:24), Valerie Hiller (20:50), Nicole Garrabrant (21:12), Christine Iseley (21:18), Constance Compton (21:32), Emmie Wenzell (22:34), and Susan Scaggs (24:07).

Together the squad scored 95 points and finished fourth among the Division I schools.

Stetson’s next meet, taking place on Saturday, Sept.14, will be the University of Florida/Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville.

Sidebar:

Amanda Spring of Stetson Univ. / Headline SurferStetson Univ. freshman sensation Amanda Spring named 'Runner of the Week' by Atlantic Sun Conference
Posted Wed, 2013-09-11 13:55
Editor's Note: Information for this report was provided by the Stetson University Athletics Dept.
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