CF Cross Country Headed to Nationals in Inaugural Season

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Elora Pfriender, Editor-in-Chief

The College of Central Florida’s new women’s cross country team is running to nationals this November!

In their first season, the CF Lady Patriots have seen great success and even greater speeds. At the NJCAA FCSAA Region 8 meet on Oct. 28, nearly every member improved upon their record from Sept. 4’s season opener on the same course. Seven runners beat their lifetime personal records, too, with freshman Brianna Carey running a personal best of 22:34, over a minute faster than the CF record of 23:37 she set just two weeks prior.

Exceptional performances from the whole team have earned CF Cross Country a spot at nationals in the coming week.

This new team is led by Coach Lauren Lumley, who is also a new addition to the College of Central Florida’s athletic program.

When asked about her time coaching at CF thus far, Lumley was enthusiastic: “It has been an incredible experience leading a hardworking group of ladies in the inaugural season of CF Cross Country.”

She went on to describe the team as a family that relies on each other but also pushes each other to succeed.

“We all work hard as a group to improve, and, by each person doing her best, the team in return becomes faster,” said Lumley.

Coach Lumley shared the team’s weekly practice routine, including long-distance training, track speedwork, race days, and breaks on Sundays. When it comes to race strategy, Lumley focuses on pacing and pack running to keep the team motivated and moving forward.

She credits the Lady Patriots’ success at regionals with this strategy: “No one went out too quick at the start, and teammates looked to one another to catch other runners on the course.”

The team plans to continue to implement these strategies in the upcoming national NCAA meet, where they will run a 5K race at Apalachee Regional Park on Saturday, Nov. 12, followed by the national half-marathon on Tuesday, Nov. 15. In preparation for these long distances, Lumley has been employing new training methods.

“The team is focusing on the controllables and what they can control to have their best performance on race day,” said the coach. “Today included one of our athletes, Heidi Kearney, running 10 miles with me in preparation for the half marathon.”

Kearney, a CF freshman, who ran the team’s runner-up time of 23:35 at regionals, said that this long-distance training can be challenging, but it’s worth the payoff.

“Running is a mental sport, and training requires adaptation and becoming used to being uncomfortable,” said Kearney. “If you step out of your comfort zone enough times and push your limits, it becomes familiar.”

Coach Lumley lives by the motto, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” a quote made popular by athletes like Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow, and Lumley said she is most impressed by her team’s hard work.

“I am so impressed by the dedication each athlete consistently shows,” said Lumley when talking about her team’s workloads as college students and commitment to still practicing every day.

The CF Cross Country team will continue to prepare for nationals on Nov. 12. Race results will be posted to the College of Central Florida’s official athletic site, cfpatriots.net.