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Spradlin XC coach of the year, Grant first team after MSC Championship

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By Carter Welch

The Freed-Hardeman University cross country teams competed in the Mid-South Conference Championship races Friday, November 3, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This was the last race of the season for the teams with a chance to qualify for the NAIA National Championships on the line.
The men’s 8K race started at 10 a.m. where Bo Scott was the first Lion to cross the finish line with an 18th place finish. Freshmen Barrett Poe and Daniel Puckett came in shortly behind Scott finishing in 23rd and 26th place. Drew Williams was the fourth finisher for the Lions team coming in 36th place, and Blake Brown anchored the team as the fifth finisher in 47th place. The Lions were able to come away with 127 points for a sixth place finish. This race marked the end of the season for the men’s team, but will return all of their top six runners next season. “The guys had very good races today, as well, though we ended up with a much lower team finish than we were hoping for,” said heach coach Derrick Spradlin. “It just shows us that we still have work to do to move up in a very competitive conference.”
The women’s race started at 11 a.m., and made the switch from a 5K to a 6K this year. Senior Madison Grant led the way for the women’s team with a fifth place finish. Zena Dorris was the second runner across the line for the Lady Lions for a 17th place finish followed soon by Megan Lampley in 19th place and Eliza Poe in 24th place. Zola Dorris helped round out the women’s team score with a 43rd place finish. The Lady Lions finished the race with 98 points resulting in a runner-up finish to end the season, the highest finishing place ever for the team. Coach Spradlin was very pleased with how the girls raced today. “I was happy with the race today. Madison qualifying for nationals again is, of course, very exciting for us. The second-place finish by the women’s team was something I knew could happen if they all had the kind of races they’re capable of, and they did. They haven’t done many 6K races at all, so it isn’t too hard to set personal records, but for every girl to do it today was just an honor to be a part of.”
With her fifth place finish, Madison Grant qualified for the NAIA National Championships once again. Grant qualified for the National Championship her sophomore year, but was not able to compete last year due to injuries. Grant will race in Vancouver, Washington on November 17, 2023.
To finish off the day, Coach Derrick Spradlin was named the Mid-South Conference Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. Coach Spradlin said, “Winning the Coach of the Year award means a lot to me because it means that our runners are doing really well against the competition. The award should go to them since they’re doing the hard work out there on the course. It’s nice to know that I’m part of the process of their development as runners, and I’m especially happy to be there with them and share in their achievements.”
Looking back at the season as a whole, Spradlin was very happy about the work and results, but also very excited for the future. “Looking back at the season, I’m very excited to see how good the men’s team can get. We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen who are scoring for us, so if they keep getting faster, as they have this season, then who knows how good they can be. They work so well together, and they keep setting new personal records, so I can’t wait to see where they go. On the women’s side, we’ve also had a lot of improvement this season, and like the men, they keep realizing more and more of their potential as runners. Madison will graduate in December, so that will be a big loss to the team, but I think she has given the other girls some goals to shoot for.”

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