A member of the Webster University men’s cross-country team set a school record, and the women’s team’s lone senior set a new personal best at the St. Louis Fall Classic at Forest Park on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Senior Jane McKibben of the women’s cross-county team had never run a 5K under the 21-minute mark in her collegiate career. She accomplished the feat at Forest Park.
McKibben finished at 20:15 and placed 33rd overall out of 78 women. Her teammate, junior Julie Greenough, finished three-tenths of a second ahead of McKibben to finish 32nd.
McKibben said she is hopeful this will carry on to the conference championships.
“The fact that I haven’t been under 21 minutes ever is a huge relief. The only time I ever was under 21 minutes was in high school,” McKibben said. This gave me much more confidence in myself, and I felt really strong throughout the race.”
McKibben paced herself with juniors Eroica Stackhouse and Greenough. She said she was shocked after the first mile was completed because of her time.
“I felt pretty strong,” McKibben said. “I was a little nervous in this race because I wasn’t sure where I was going to fit; my goal was 21:30. Throughout the first mile, we ran a 6:35. I was shocked at first because that was the fastest time I ran in a long time. Going into the last stretch, I felt really good and I had no idea what the time was. Julie and I sprinted the last seconds of the race.”
She knew if she kept pace with them, she would have a great time.
“(It) really shows what great teammates we have because Julie could’ve easily taken off in the race — instead she helped pace me throughout the race,” McKibben said. “It shows a lot. I have a lot of great teammates; (I’m) proud of everyone for coming to practice and pushing each other to do their best.”
Stackhouse finished 46th overall, and freshman Jessica Tautphaeus finished 65th.
Sophomore Jason Hickson of the men’s team broke a school record in the 8K with a time of 26:41. Overall, Hickson finished 20th and felt good about his performance.
“I felt pretty good. I know I can improve and get a lower time,” Hickson said. “About the fifth mile I knew I was setting a good pace. I kept on grinding and at 21:20 I knew I had the record then. But I had to finish strong, and I did with a time of 26:41.”
Other notables for the men’s team: seniors Ethan Jeffries and Tony Morales finished 71st and 72nd.
On Oct. 13, the teams participated in the Illinois College Cross-Country Invite in Jacksonville, Ill. The Gorlok women placed sixth overall out of 12 teams, with junior Heather Heisse placing seventh overall with a time of 23:28 among 92 women runners. On the men’s side, Webster finished fifth out of 13 squads with Jeffries, who placed 10th out of 122 runners, leading the charge with a time of 27:09.
Hickson hopes this carries on for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship, which is Saturday, Oct. 27 in Hillsboro, Ill.
“I’ll need my teammates to push me and others this week,” Hickson said. “This week, (I’ll) go to practice and have fun, come Saturday, be ready, and I’ll be looking for a good run this weekend.”
The women’s team will look to repeat as conference champions after last year’s first-ever title in Webster history. The men’s squad seeks to earn its best finish ever for a conference championship.
“It’s going to be really tough,” McKibben said. “If we can just start out quickly and take girls out in the first couple miles, we’ll have a chance. It won’t be easy but I’m positive we can pull it off. This weekend is up for grabs.”