Southwest Baptist University junior Elysia Burgos was the first runner to cross the finish line Friday, Oct. 9, winning the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Divisional meet and putting a stamp on a season that, so far, hasn’t seen her or her program miss a step.
Burgos and the Lady Bearcats, a formidable combination in 2019, have been dominant this year. The team has overall wins at both meets it’s raced, and Burgos has a pair of individual first-place finishes.
Meanwhile, SBU’s men’s cross country team has claimed a win and a second-place finish so far this year, as both the mens and women’s programs look ahead to the GLVC championship meet Saturday, Oct. 24, in Elsah, Illinois.
Track and cross country coach Corey McElhaney said he’s just happy to see his athletes racing again.
“The teams really bought into building their fitness and base over the spring and summer months,” McElhaney told the BH-FP. “I could really tell who bought into the mentality over the extended break. That is a big reason they are seeing success, but I also feel that their faith has been a big part of knowing their purpose goes a lot deeper than just running.”
Burgos wasn’t the only Lady Bearcat at the GLVC West Divisional meet’s pointy end, though.
All five of SBU’s scorers finished in the top 10.
Burgos finished at 21:30.48, more than 37 seconds faster than the second place finisher. SBU’s Tabitha Weber was the next to finish, claiming fourth place at 23:08.29. Right behind her in fifth was sophomore Tessa Valdivia, finishing in 23:14.54. Twins Brocklyn and Alexis Barber wrapped up scoring for SBU, with the former finishing eighth at 23:27.38 and the latter taking ninth at 23:28.37.
Bolivar’s Anna Bandy, a sophomore at SBU, earned a seventh-place finish at the triangular earlier this year, finishing in 18:58.25.
SBU’s men’s team placed second in the West Divisional meet, finishing with 57 points. Winner and host Lindenwood University had 50.
Tyler Goatley was SBU’s top runner, backing up a first-place finish at the triangular with a second-place 26:46.62 finish in the 8K event.
Jacob McCrackin was SBU’s other top-10 finisher, taking ninth place in 27:19.74. Blaine Jimerson took 11th with a 27:35.53 finish. Daniel Garrison and Evan Smith rounded out SBU’s scoring, finishing 17th and 18th at 27:56.76 and 27:57.69, respectively.
SBU’s runners have also faced challenges on their way to success, McElhaney said.
“Just trying to train and be a college student-athlete in the midst of a pandemic is so stressful,” he said. “These young men and women have endured so much to be able to balance all they are balancing.”
SBU will take on the conference championship Saturday, Oct. 24.
“We are hoping to just be at the race healthy and able to compete at our best,” McElhaney said. “Anything beyond that will be icing on the cake. We are excited to get out there and race.”
Football, other schedules announced
The GLVC recently announced several updated schedules for spring 2021.
SBU’s football, soccer and volleyball seasons, all originally scheduled to start in the fall, are now scheduled to take place in the spring due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change was announced in July for all GLVC schools, following a vote by the conference’s council of presidents, according to a conference news release.
SBU football will scrimmage Lindenwood University on Saturday, March 27, in Bolivar before starting its regular season at home against Truman State University on Saturday, April 3.
Find more information and full schedules for SBU football and other sports at sbubearcats.com.