TAMPA, Fla. - The West Florida women’s cross country team posted a sixth place finish of 14 teams at the NCAA South Regional Championships hosted by Tampa on Saturday. Harding won the meet with 32 points, followed by Tampa with 47 points. Only 50 points separated the third through ninth place teams in a very competitive race.
“The team had an outstanding season and made an impressive jump from last year,” stated Head Coach John Bergen. “It was very enjoyable coaching this group, as they put in some dedicated hard work and turned themselves into a very competitive group. The great thing is they are a very young team.”
Four sophomores and three freshmen competed for UWF in the NCAA regional meet.
Sophomore Bailee Hedstrom (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Nease HS) just missed earning a spot on the all-region team as she finished 16th overall, missing the honor by just two seconds.
“Bailee had a very nice season and turned in some great workouts, and it would have been nice to have her on the all-region team, especially with one of the stronger regional fields in recent years,” explained Bergen. “She turned in a 23:16 performance today, and that time would have put her on the all-region team in each of the last three years.”
Sophomore Kelbe Beck (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln HS) finished 31st in a time of 24:34, cutting over one minute off her regional time from one year ago. Meanwhile, sophomore Stacy Paton (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) also turned in a personal best with a 25:13 for the 6k event, which was good enough for 41st place.
“Kelbe and Stacy both stepped up their training and performances from last year, and they were great team leaders as the team success was due to the depth of our top group of runners,” said Bergen.
Freshman Megan Steinocher (Lawrenceville, Ga./Mill Creek HS) finished 45th overall with a time of 25:31, with fellow freshman Karyssa Tourelle-Fallon (Navarre, Fla./Navarre HS) just behind in 47th place with a time of 25:38. This rounded out the scoring five runners for UWF.
“Megan and Karyssa stepped in as freshman and were very impressive this year,” explained Bergen. “Karyssa was very consistent for us, and Megan battled admirably through injuries to help the team score well in the final meets of the year.”
Sophomore Vanessa Ffrench (Milton, Fla./Boca Raton HS), racing her first season of cross country, and freshman Celenne Morfin (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region HS) rounded out the Argos runners, with 65th and 66th place finishes, both with a 26:32 time in a race of 109 runners.
“The entire team should be proud of their accomplishments this season and excited to build on this year for the future,” stated Bergen.
The regional championships concluded a strong season for the Argonaut harriers. During the season, the team turned in two meet team championships, two individual winners (Steinocher at Mississippi College 4k meet, Hedstrom at the Watson/Ford 6k Invitational), two GSC runner of the week awards (Steinocher and Hedstrom), and a second place finish at the GSC championships.
For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.