Cross country runner places second at MSU invitational

'It was a confidence booster'


Bradley Wilson

Exercise physiology junior Mercy Yermo and nursing sophomore Delaney Locke trail behind criminal justice sophomore Michelle Estrada at the MSU Texas Invitational (5K) held at the River Creek Golf Course, Oct. 19, 2018.

I woke up today at 7 a.m. feeling ready to race.

The chance of rain was 100 percent — again — my mindset changed from nervous to excited.

I headed to the athletic training room to get my stomach taped by athletic training sophomore Hannah Hackler. After Hannah’s great pep-talk I drove back to my apartment to make coffee, eat Raisin Bran, relax, and talk race tactics with my roommate and teammate April Peña, kinesiology senior.

“Girl, you better go out and kill it. I swear if you’re not on the ground when you finish, I’m gonna be mad,” she said.

I rebutted “Girl, this is your last cross country race of your collegiate career, if you’re not throwing up at the end of your race, we’re not roommates anymore.”

April and I left our apartment at 8:20 a.m. for the 20-minute drive to the course in Burkburnett. On the way there we gave each other pep-talks and listened to my pre-race playlist consisting of Immortal Technique, Demi Lovato, and The Score.

Seeking shelter from the 55 degrees and rain in the River Creek Gold Course building, our head coach Koby Styles passed around bib numbers and pins. With No. 48 in hand, I went through phases of standing on chairs and joking around to complete concentration (a constant struggle).

The team started warming up at 9:15 a.m., and we were all in high spirits, ready to dominate the field. We knew it was going to be a tough race against East Central University, however, after a phenomenal workout on Tuesday afternoon we were ready.

We walked to the start line at 9:48 a.m. and began our strides. Before every race, we circle up and talk motivation, tactics, and say a prayer. I told the ladies that we were worthy to be the No. 1 team here, and we should leave nothing in the tank. Mercy Yermo, exercise physiology junior, led us in prayer and asked Jesus to help us not fall over in the wet conditions. Coach Koby Styles told us the story of when the Vikings would land on an island, they would burn their boats to signify no turning back.

When we broke out I picked out ECU’s No.1 and No. 2 runners. Their fastest girl had brown hair and was wearing black shoes and a low ponytail. My plan was to go out with her and try to hang on. She is a 17:45-minute runner on the track for 5 km so it was going to be a battle. Their No. 2 runner had blonde hair, was 6-feet tall and was wearing Miley Cyrus buns. She was the athlete I had to fend off.

Leroy blew the warning whistle then criminal justice senior and our teammate Sabrina DeSantiago blew the horn to start the race. We were off.

Within the first 1 km, I found myself running behind finance junior Jasmine Amo. ECU’s no.1 runner was already 20 meters ahead and surging.

At 1.1 miles my shoelace came undone, however, the spikes coach Styles gave us this year were connected to a sock so with the water and sock securing my foot, I ignored them and kept on running.

One problem cross country runners face is getting distracted during a race. Usually around 1.5 miles my mind turns to the unicorn tattoo I want to get on my ribs, or the latest Grey’s Anatomy episode. Today I was thinking about how I’m losing my Australian identity, specifically the trouble I’m having with converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. Usually I can look at a temperature and know what it is in Celsius. However, today when I saw 55˚F, I thought it was 5˚C. In fact, it was 12˚C. This distraction went on for another 4 minutes and I couldn’t remember what lap we were on.

During the race, April told herself “…[S]printers weren’t made for this.” And, “Don’t get last…that fat girl better not beat me.”

Mathematics freshman Victoria Rosas told herself, “If I drop out right now, coach will get mad.”

Athletic training sophomore Katie Till was thinking about what she would eat after her race. And nursing sophomore was getting angry at the runners around her. “Some harlot just splashed me.” And, “My feet are cold.”

With 1 km to go, I was in second place and ECU’s No.2 was gaining on me. I can see coach driving in the golf buggy yelling something at me. I made out “SHE…COMING…RUN…HILL…” I assumed what he meant was to surge through the upcoming hills. At the top of the last hill, I had 500 m until the finish line. I looked behind me and ECU’s No.2 had dropped off. My goal was to finish under 19 minutes, so I knuckled down and ran the last 400m with all I had.

Crossing the line I heard our assistant coach Ana Lopez yell “18:52!! 18:52!!” I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the official results had me crossing the line at 19:04 minutes. However, I was still happy with second place, and I knew I had just overcome a mental barrier that had been blocked for the whole season. I was finally confident.

Watching my teammates and ECU finishing I knew it was going to be a tight one. Alas, we finished second as a team, however, in a previous meet in Oklahoma, ECU had put six of their girls in front of our No.1 girl. To have raced neck-and-neck with ECU changes our whole mindset.

Knowing we have a similar battle with Tarleton State University in two weeks at the conference championships, todays meet proved to us that we have the ability to come away from this season with a big, shiny ring on our fingers.


  • 2nd — Bridget Reilly 19:04.2
  • 5th — Amerhyst Aguirre, 19:41.1
  • 7th — Jasmine Amo, 20:00.0
  • 8th — Sierra Stucky, 20:03.5
  • 12th — Victoria Rosas, 20:25.0
  • Delaney Locke, 20:30.6
  • Mercy Yermo, 20:48.2
  • Michelle Estrada, 20:51.3
  • Katie Till, 21:46.5
  • Alex Feller, 22:31.5
  • April Pena, 24:45.3
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