The Southern Miss country team opened its season for the second year in a row with a win at the Mississippi College Opener on Friday, Aug. 31.
“Overall we had a really solid day,” Head Coach Aaron Kindt said. “We were well prepared. The group that has looked sharp in practice really came and executed well today.”
The race served as a rust buster for the team, as they faced light competition while running against Samford University, Blue Mountain College, Mississippi College, Grambling State, Jackson State, Millsaps College, Alcorn State, Philander Smith College, Mississippi University for Women and the University of Alabama.
Several runners sat out of the meet, most notably two of the top five runners from last season: sophomore Kate Mattox and junior Savannah McMillon. In addition, freshman Kayelee Payton and transfer Sandra Szpott also sat out of the meet.
“We didn’t run our full roster today, but we looked really good effort-wise,” Kindt said. “We have a lot to build off of from today, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what this team has this fall.”
The Golden Eagles placed five runners in the top 10 despite the rainy and muddy conditions. Leading the way with a first-place finish was junior Emma Kate Holdbrooks, who finished in second place with a time of 18:23.
“Emma Kate Holdbrooks had a really solid summer and we saw this finish coming at the end of track season,” Kindt said. “This was a fantastic opener for her and she’s going to play a big part with this team this fall.”
Junior Monika Gebarzewska placed third, junior Regen McGee placed fourth and freshman Lina May placed fifth running times of 18:46, 18:48, and 19:00.
“Monika and Regen were really solid and became stronger as the race went on,” Kindt said. “I expect them to be up there later this fall. Lina May, the freshman, a really good first collegiate race from her finishing in the top-10 as our No. 4 runner; an excellent effort from her today.”
Rounding out the top five was Sarah McMillon, a transfer from West Alabama, who ran a time of 19:07 to finish ninth. Taking the sixth and seventh spots on the team were Madeline Bell and Theresa Harto, who ran 19:30 and 19:42 to finish in 13th and 16th place, respectively. Finishing eighth and ninth on the team were juniors Chloe and Rachel Tedder who finished in 26th and 31st place with times of 20:18 and 20:44.
Overall, Southern Miss finished with 22 points. Samford took second place with 39 and Alabama finished in third with 75 points.
Southern Miss will travel to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the Commodore Classic hosted by Vanderbilt University on Sept. 15.