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Georgetown College men's and women's cross country teams headed back to Berea for a tough run in the Berea College Invitational.
"This is a true cross country course," said GC coach Lucas Garnett. "This leads to some interesting times as you have to cross a creek, run across trails and gravel terrain. It is probably the most entertaining of courses for the spectators as well as racers that we see all season."
The women took fourth, only being beaten by one NAIA school, edging Mid-South Conference rival Campbellsville University at the line and beating three NCAA schools.
"Our ladies had a solid finish with Julia (Manning) leading the way again," Garnett said. "Karina (Egger) gave us a second runner in the top 20 for our two award winners that day."
GC tallied 132 points to CU's 134. Campbellsville had more runners finish in the top 30, but Georgetown had all five finish in top 37. CU's final runner came in at 40th.
When it comes to outdoor sports, the elements play a factor. Saturday, in the Mid-South Conference Cross Country Preview Championship Meet, the heat in Bowling Green, Ky. the heat stole the show. With Georgetown College's men's team running its first 8,000 of the season, the oppressive humidity throughout the race could have been a deterrent.
"It was a brutal day and times were slow across the board for every athlete. Making me even more proud of what our guys accomplished today," said GC coach Luke Garnett. "We had competitors dropping out of the race left and right. A couple teams that started with enough to score, didn't have a team score because so many of their athletes dropped out.
"All our guys toughed it out and finished. With the conditions and it being the first 8k of the season, I am pleased with the times and results."
Veteran leadership is often important to any team, however, not essential as is evident by Georgetown College's men's and women's cross country teams.
The Tigers have no seniors this year, but the youthful bunch packs a solid punch. In the season opening race Friday in Berea, the women finished fourth and the men eighth.
On the women's side the youth led the way – six freshmen finished in the top eight Tiger runners on the course and four of the top five.
"It was a good first race," said GC coach Lucas Garnett. "We are very excited about our freshmen and what they did shows why, but we cannot overlook what Karina Egger did and does for our team.
"As one of our three juniors, Karina can really set the tone and tonight she ran her best college race. We are going to continue to lean on her as she's stepped up and accepted that role of leader on and off the course."
Georgetown College men's and women's cross country achieved a first in Tiger athletics through their selflessness and community-centered outreach this season.
Friday evening at the honors banquet for the NAIA Cross Country National Championship meet, the men's team received the NAIA Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Team Award for all these efforts. However, coach Lucas Garnett is quick to point out, this award is an acknowledgement for both teams.
This award was created to recognize one team in each sport based upon their documented display of exemplary character and sportsmanship during practice, competition, on campus and in the community and no other Georgetown team has ever received this award. The NAIA Cross Country Coaches Association Officers was the voting body for this honor.
The NAIA builds its foundation on a program it started – Champions of Character. This is designed to help athletes grow beyond the competition field with focuses on five core values of: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
Learning that everything has a use and a purpose is a lesson that lasts for a lifetime. It is one Georgetown College men's and women's cross country team has helped to spread to the campus and local community.
Through the team's shoe drive, students, faculty, staff and the public realized that shoes in their closets might be old to them, but usable in another way. The harriers encouraged the donation of those unused foot apparel to either be given to a company to recycle or if still wearable donate to a local charity.
The response was awe-inspiring. Over the three week collection time nearly 500 pairs were brought in and so coach Lucas Garnett extended the drop off period and challenged everyone to help reach the half century mark.