The Lady Berries cross country team’s season came to an end on Saturday morning with a sixth place finish at the Logansport Sectional, but the Berries did qualify three individual runners for next Saturday’s Regional to be held on the Berries’ home course.
Carolayn Salamanca finished 17th overall with a time of 21:46, Malia Roberts was 25th in 22:44, and Maria Perez was 29th in 23:13. The top 10 individual finishers from the non-qualifying teams advance to the Regional. Salamanca was 4th in that group, Roberts was 7th, and Perez was 9th.
“Carolayn had her best race ever considering the course difficulty and her time. She ran a very intelligent race and hit her splits in 6:58, 7:07, and was 6:59 over the last 1.1 miles. That requires a lot mental toughness especially with the hills in the second mile in the Berry Patch. I think she is prepared to go lower next Saturday and give herself a chance to run at the New Prarie Semi-State the following week,” said her coach, Brian Morrill.
“Malia and Maria were off their best efforts this year, but still ran well enough to extend their season. They are better runners than they showed on Saturday. Malia ran a 22:04 on a tough New Prairie course on September 19th and also had a 21:49 last week at the conference for her personal best time. She said she felt tired going into the race and that is my fault, but we can correct that this week and I think she will bounce back with something in the 21’s at Regional. She is a tough runner – I know she will come with her best effort this Saturday. Maria was running well on Saturday and developed a sharp pain while she was in the Patch and fell off the pace a little bit before she recovered and finished with a strong kick. Sometimes things like that happen and you just have to put it behind you and block it out. She knows she can run with Carolayn and Malia because she had a 22:00 a week ago at the conference meet. I look for all three girls to have a great race on Saturday.” said Morrill.
Azucena Hernandez finished in 35th position with a 23:40 for the Berries and missed the Regional cut by 1 position. “I feel so bad that we couldn’t get Azucena to the Regional either with our team or as an individual. She is a example of what hard work will do over 4 years. She improved about 5 minutes over her 4 years and steadily moved up from somewhere in the 15th to 20th range on our team to being our #4 runner most of this season. She has been a great example for our younger runners to learn from. We are going to miss her dedication and work ethic,” said Morrill.
“We were without two runners for Saturday’s meet due to being quarantined because of exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID 19 or had COVID 19 symptoms – one has been our rock the last three years and the other will be one our rocks the next two years. Erica White has overcome too many surgeries to count the past two years and has been one of our Co-Most Valuable Runners the past two seasons. She has been a coach’s dream to coach because of her competiveness and commitment to making herself the best runner she could. Erica was off just a little bit this season and was making her way back to her old form when she got quarantined a week and a half ago. It was a blow to our team because of how hard Erica was trying to get herself back in a position to help the team advance,” said Morrill. “Gabby Richie got notified she was being quarantined Friday afternoon right before school dismissed. Gabby had just set her peronal record with a 40 second time drop the week before at conference and she was ready to compete at a high level on Saturday. This is not meant to take anything away from the teams that finished ahead of us because they are very good teams and we were still an underdog to advance as a team, but losing Gabby and Erica really made it almost impossible for us to catch those ahead of us.” said Morrill.
The Berries will host the IHSAA Regional this coming Saturday morning with the girls race beginning at 10:30 and the boys taking off at 11:15. Admission is $5 per person and face masks are required if social distancing can not be maintained.