First home invitational in 12 years attracts large crowd

For the first time in 12 years, the Univeristy of North Alabama held its own Cross County meet at Mcfarland Park. The Lions defeated 9 other teams at the meet to finish first overall, the Lions had six runners finish in the top 15 at the meet on Sep. 7.

Errol K. Chandler Sports Editor [email protected]

As every UNA runner crossed the finish line, roars from the crowd could be heard the loudest as for the first time since 2007, the University of North Alabama held a home cross country meet.

Everyone supporting the Lions seemed to share the joy of being the ultimate fan for the day and it’s an experience that head coach Jeremy Provence is glad everyone felt.

“It’s the first one in so long so a lot of the folks that were here have never experienced a cross country meet, “Provence said. “So for them to come out and just enjoy the moment and learn the ends and outs of a meet it was just really exciting to see.”

The men as a unit finished first ending with a team score of 37 with an average time of 26:33. They had six runners finish in the top 15 of the individual times. Junior Peyton Ewoldt finish with the highest time among the Lions’ men team. The junior had a time of 25:59.8 to finish fourth. A pair of freshmen finished fifth and sixth for UNA. Brandon Lee turned in a time of 26:28.3, while Connor Simms was Players were able to see many family and friends in the crowd. In addition to that, the players also saw family faces at UNA that included many UNA professors, President Ken Kitts, head soccer coach Chris Walker and the entire women’s soccer team at UNA. This gave the runners a feeling that they will always remember

“The turn out was really good,” said men’s runner Hunter Davis. “I was surprised the number of other athletes that came out and it was really motivating to see the turnout.”

UNA women’s cross country runner Kara Nix also voiced her opinion on the event and her reaction.

“That was the most exciting race that i’ve ever gotten to be apart of,” Nix said. “In high school, I never got a home race so when we walked in at 7 and we already saw UNA people coming in and during the race just seeing a sea of purple supporting us, it was the best environment you could ask for.”

The women collectively finished in third place with a team score of 47 and an average of 19:02.

Individually, Emma Knight led UNA with a time of 18:30.2 and a third-place finish. Phoebe Moon finished seventh with a time of 18:49.9, while Kara Nix had a time of 18:58.4 to finish eighth. Other top finishers for the Lions included Sharon Chepseba (16th, 19:38.9), Abby Nunnelly (26th, 20:10.2), Lillian Humphries (33rd, 20:31.1) and Emilee Hudsmith (37th, 20:44).

North Alabama has been unable to host a home cross country event for several years due to flooding that can occur frequently in McFarland Park. McFarland is home to a well sized venue that would play host to the 8K run that the men’s team participated in and the 5K that the women ran.

With the UNA Invitational behind them, both cross country units will look to get back into action at the John Mcnichols Invitational on Sep. 21 at 9:00 a.m. in Terre Haute, Indiana.