The Westmont cross country team went to William Jessup University to compete in their Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Championship race. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed second out of eight teams, and seven runners won an All-Conference Honors.
Coach Russell Smelley was extremely happy with the results of this race and said, “Coach Lindsey Connolly did an amazing job getting them to where they belong and they did what they were capable of. I was very impressed with their performance. They beat the #20 teams, so hopefully they will jump into the rankings for the first time in a while.”
Coach Smelley was also happy to see that the Warriors were able to have a shortened season, after not knowing if it would even happen in the first place.
With a 9:00 a.m. start time, Anneline Breytenbach warmed up to start her 5k race. She finished the first lap in second among a group of three runners, but quickly made her way up to place third with a time of 19:09.0.
“We have such an amazing team and all push each other … We’re all encouraging each other as we run so it’s been a fun experience.”
Breytenbach walked onto the Westmont team this year and thanked her sprinter background and natural competitive drive for her third-place win.
Madden Hundley, a sophomore on the team, earned one of the seven All-Conference Honors that were given to runners on Westmont’s team. She had placed sixth in her races, the same spot she had finished last year, but has since improved significantly. Hundley has fought through an injury but put in the work, despite having to cut her off-season and in-season training to half of what her teammates got.
Hundley said, “I keep going from being super happy to just overwhelmed with a happy-sad emotion because it was such a hard season, but I’m super grateful. I was so surprised to be able to race like that today.”
As the women finished their races, the men’s team started with an 8k at 10:00 a.m. Mitch Groff was the first Warrior to finish and placed fifth overall with a time of 26:05.3, a 45-second drop in his personal record. He was able to have a fast start and maintain that lead, which gave him the drop.
One of Groff’s goals that day was “to be in the top few guys … I wanted to push hard today and that’s what I did.”
In the same race as Groff’s, Adam King, who came in 11th place, and Garret Miller, who came in 14th, took the other two All-GSAC places.
Coach Smelley talked about how proud he was of Groff’s improvement, considering the fact that he was sick last season and now dropped his time, got All-Conference, and barely missed qualifying time for nationals.
Coach Smelley wants to focus on his Warriors for track season, especially since there was a delay in the cross country season. But even with the delay, he was very proud and grateful for the small season they were able to have.