Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at Toccoa Falls on Friday afternoon in the Toccoa Falls Invitational. The event marked the second time in school history that Truett-McConnell (TMC) has competed in the Toccoa Falls Invitational, with their first appearance being in October 2005. This weekend’s race at Toccoa revealed a course which had been modified significantly in comparison to the 2005 race, but the result was the same – a TMC victory.
The women ran first and helped set the tone for the meet by getting out front early and never looking back at the competition. Sophomore Hannah Spencer was able to lead wire to wire, and as a result, collected her first collegiate victory. It was the first overall victory for an individual since Erin Gonzalez won the Young Harris Invitational in 2006. Spencer was followed closely by junior Melissa Gonzalez who finished second overall earning her highest collegiate finish. Banks County graduate, Tiffany Sims, ran the best race of her freshman season finishing 3rd overall, just ahead of teammate Jessica Porter who crossed the line fourth overall. Rounding out the finishing order for TMC was senior Kim Walls who placed 10th overall. As a result of earning the top four finishing spots and having all five runners in the top ten, the Lady Bears cruised to an impressive team victory.
“It was nice to get a victory under our belts for the season. Last year, our ladies’ team was close, but they just weren’t able to close the deal. I’m really proud of all the ladies and the effort they put forth today on a challenging course. It was nice to see Hannah get a win because she has done so much for our program this year, not just from a performance standpoint, but mainly from her work ethic that she has brought to practice each week,” said Head Coach Jarret Holland. The victory marked the 7th Lady Bears victory for the squad coached by Holland in his past five years at TMC.
It was a tough act to follow after the impressive performance set forth by the Lady Bears, but the men seemed up to the challenge. TMC was led by junior Jeremiah Boozer, who also jumped out front early and never looked back. Boozer captured his first collegiate victory and the 2nd overall individual victory for a Bear in school history. Finishing second for the Bears and 3rd overall in the race was sophomore Chris Parks. Dacula High School graduate Kyle Groover continued to impress and build on his most successful season to date by finishing 4th overall, just a few seconds behind Parks. Rounding out the scoring for the men was Brett Rosser (6th overall) and senior Kevin Nowak (9th overall). As a result of the squad’s effort on the course, the men took the victory over the rest of the competition, marking their first win for the 2009 season.
“I was extremely pleased with the effort on the men’s side. We’ve been close all year, but we just keep coming up a few points short each week. It was nice to finally get our win, and now maybe we can concentrate on doing what we need to in order to make the NCCAA National Meet,” said Holland. “Jeremiah has done a lot for this team throughout the years, and no one here deserved to win more than he did. It was nice to see him finally get a victory.” According to Holland, some other Bears also had big performances on Friday afternoon. “I though Kyle Groover and Chris Parks ran great. They just continue to race smart week in and week out. I think they both have the potential to be very good collegiate runners if they stick with it over the next few years. Rosser and Nowak were huge for us as well. We really needed both of them to step up for us to get the win, and they both rallied their strength and finished strong. It was a total team victory.”
Both teams will travel to Spartanburg, South Carolina next weekend to compete in the 1st Annual Upstate Cross Country Invite hosted by University of South Carolina Upstate.