Lady Eagles gear up for their 1st Heartland Conference meet
MANSFIELD, Texas (Oct. 25, 2013) – Coach Wade Miller’s goal is to build Oklahoma Christian’s women’s cross country program into one that annually will be competitive in the Heartland Conference. The Lady Eagles should find out Saturday how far they’ve progressed this year toward that goal.
In OC’s second year in the NCAA Division II league, its cross country teams will be afforded the opportunity to run in the league meet, which will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Mansfield Sports Complex.
Conference officials chose not to allow the league’s provisional members to compete in the event last year. This year, the league has four provisional members – a full one-third of its membership – and the conference reversed course, albeit with some caveats.
Runners from provisional schools (OC, McMurry, Rogers State and Lubbock Christian) will be allowed to compete for all-conference honors against runners from other conference schools, but not for individual honors (such as runner of the year) or team titles.
Defending champion Dallas Baptist (Texas) is “head and shoulders” above the other women’s teams in the conference and will be the favorite, Miller said.
OC will field a team of six runners – four of them freshmen – in the race that will be run at 6,000 meters, longer than standard 5,000-meter collegiate races.
“This will be the first time for most of the team to race 6K but I think they cope well,” Miller said. “Everyone has been getting stronger each week since the season started and I'm confident that they will continue that trend."
Leading the way for the Lady Eagles will be freshman Layne Hammer, who has been the team’s top runner all fall. Three other freshmen – Maci Rich, Katie Jones and Sarah Cobb – will join veterans Maria Sargent and Tavia Hoheisel on the OC squad.
The Lady Eagles will be without one of their top runners, sophomore Tara Lewis, who is out with an injury.
Miller said he hopes to use the conference race to prep for the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship, which will be run on Nov. 16 in Cedarville, Ohio.