A third place finish out of 26 competing teams highlighted Ball State Cross Country's finish at the Spartan Invite in East Lansing, Michigan on Friday. Ahead of the Cardinals, Grand Valley State finished in second place and host Michigan State won the meet.
Distance coach Rachel McFarlane said that the team’s ability to work together ultimately contributed to the top three finish.
“Pack running and going out strong together is what we did well today,” McFarlane said. “We were composed, engaged, and on a mission.”
Friday's finish is the Cardinals second top three finish this season as they took third place at the IWU Twilight Classic on Sept. 6 and a second place finish at Butler Twilight on Aug. 30. Alongside a strong team finish, six out of eight runners set personal records on the day.
Leading the pack for Ball State was senior Maritza Rodriguez, followed closely by junior Cayla Eckenroth and sophomore Karleigh Conner. Rounding out the team was freshman Vivian Van Eck, senior Peyton Kneadler, senior Hannah Cummings, freshman Juliana Stogsdill, and sophomore Emma Cunningham.
The most notable performance of the day came from Rodriguez, who turned in a time of 22:09.7. This time improves upon her performance at the invite last year by a full minute and setting a new personal record.
“I was not expecting this,” said Rodriguez. “I felt good and am so proud of myself. It’s my senior year and I cannot afford to wait anymore. I can’t wait for the next race, I’m ready to give it my all.”
Coming out of the meet, McFarlane said she wants her team to continue to roll off of this momentum.
“We are eager to get back out there and compete,” said McFarlane. “However, not everyone had a good day, but people stepped up and that is what I am proud of.”
The Cardinals have a week off before heading to Louisville, Kentucky for the Louisville Classic on Oct. 5.