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Hammer leads Lady Eagles in Heartland Conference postseason debut

OC freshman Sarah Cobb runs down the final straightaway on Saturday during the Heartland Conference Championship.
OC freshman Sarah Cobb runs down the final straightaway on Saturday during the Heartland Conference Championship.

By Murray Evans
MANSFIELD, Texas (Oct. 26, 2013) – Its appearance in the Heartland Conference Championship on Saturday morning was a first for Oklahoma Christian’s women’s cross country team and coach Wade Miller was grateful for the learning experience for his young squad.

Layne Hammer, one of four freshmen who toed the starting line at the Mansfield Sports Complex, led the Lady Eagles with an 18th-place finish on a cool, overcast morning perfect for long-distance running.

The rest of the Lady Eagles ran respectably in the university’s first official conference postseason event in any sport since OC joined the Heartland before the 2012-13 academic year.

“It’s a good opportunity,” Miller said. “We were excited to participate this year and kind of see how things are. It was a trial run, I guess you could say. It was a well-put-on meet with some really great competition.”

Team scores weren’t kept for the conference’s four provisional members (including OC), but the Lady Eagles would have finished seventh among 10 teams. Dallas Baptist (Texas), led by individual winner Kelsey Bruce, easily won the team title.

Hammer rallied during the final loop of the 6,000-meter race and moved up from 23rd place to 18th in the 83-woman field. She finished with a time of 22:46.5.

“She ran really tough and closed well,” Miller said. “She moved forward a few spots and she was just one spot away from honorable mention all-conference. But as a freshman, it definitely was a great performance.”

The other Lady Eagles came across the finish line in short order. Sarah Cobb was 41st in 23:42, Maci Rich was 48th in 23:58.7, Katie Jones was 53rd in 24:11.3, Maria Sargent was 58th in 24:33.3 and Tavia Hoheisel was 73rd in 26:25.9.

OC ran without one of its top runners, Tara Lewis, due to injury.

“The rest of the girls ran really well,” Miller said. “I’m really pleased with the way they performed today. I’m looking forward to the future.”