A weekend to remember for Cross Country
This past weekend, the Penn State DuBois Men's and Women's Cross Country teams had the honor of competing at the United States College Athletics Association's (USCAA) Cross Country Championships in Lakeland, Fl. This comes after one of the most successful seasons that Penn State DuBois has ever seen for their running program. Among their many accolades was Juliann Boddorf being crowned conference champion, Coach Kyle Gordon receiving the 2015 Coach of the Year Award, and each of the Lady Lion runners for DuBois winning All-Conference Honors. To top it off, Matthew Humes, Tamera Anthony, and Juliann Boddorf received All-Academic Team honors for the conference and Academic All-American status. These honors are awarded to athletes who are sophomores or higher in school and have a 3.7 GPA or higher. Representing the Penn State DuBois' running programs at the national championships were Juliann Boddorf, Stephanie Graham, Carley Boice, Tamera Anthony, Ty Haines, Justin Heasley, Matt Humes, and Joe Knarr.
The weekend started with an exciting opportunity for the athletes, as the legendary runner, Jim Ryun was the featured speaker for the dinner preceding the championship race. Jim Ryun is famous for being the first high school runner to run a mile under 4 minutes and held the world record for the fastest high school mile for 36 years. Ryun was a silver medalist in the 1500m run in the 1968 Summer Olympics. To date, he is the youngest male track athlete to have ever qualified for the Olympics.
The following morning, athletes were greeted with record high temperatures for their race in Lakeland, FL. At 87 degrees with 70% humidity, the runners faced one of their most grueling races yet. Nearly a dozen runners from each of the men's and women's race required medical attention due to heat exhaustion. However, all of the athletes representing Penn State DuBois rose to the challenge and completed the race while maintaining their ranks among their conference and national competitors. The best overall finishers for the team were Juliann Boddorf who came in 48th for the women and Ty Haines who came in 112th for the men.
"Our athletes really made us proud this year. Though they performed great at nationals, I was most impressed by their sportsmanship. After the race, two of our runners stood over a competitor who was lying on the ground from heat exhaustion in an attempt to shade him from the sun. Meanwhile, other athletes of ours were getting water for the competitors who finished after them. As a coach, you can't be more proud of your athletes when they display that kind of class and sportsmanship. "
Following the race, the runners made a stop at Walt Disney World to celebrate their accomplished season. "This was the best weekend I've ever had. The team is like a small family. I'm going to miss it." Matt Humes commented while reflecting on the weekend.
The runners will take a break for a while, before they start preparing for next year. Florida College will once again be hosting the championships next November, as each school has a two-year bid to host. In the meantime, the Penn State DuBois Cross Country program is hoping to continue growing in both quantity and quality.
[Attached: Picture of Stephanie Graham, Picture of group at Disney World, Picture of team at Hangar A in Lakeland, Fl for championship banquet, Picture of Stephanie Graham and Joe Knarr with the legendary Jim Ryun, and Picture of the Women's team in front of the Cinderella Castle.]