Friday, August 26, 2016

Skipper leads Life to victory at the Cougar XC Challenge

Friday, 26 August 2016, was a day of firsts at Phipps Park in Tallahassee, Florida. It was the first college women's race ever at the Cougar Cross Country Challenge. It was the first collegiate race ever held in Phipps Park. The race was also the first competition for Tallahassee Community College's first ever women's cross country team. And it was a first place finish for Life University sophomore Elizabeth Skipper, leading her team to first place in the team standings.

Cora Atkinson, Elizabeth Skipper
Cora Atkinson, Elizabeth Skipper

The race started just after 5:30 PM, with 35 runners from four schools headed downhill toward the shores of Lake Jackson. By the end of the first mile a group of four leaders had reached the level lakeside--Pasco-Hernando State College sophomore Charlene Sanchez, Chipola Community College frosh Nicole Morse, and two Life University athletes, sophomore Elizabeth Skipper and senior Cora Atkinson. The course turned uphill away from the lake during the second mile, and Sanchez fell behind. Meanwhile, Morse opened a gap on Skipper and Atkinson. Neverthless, the race was unfolding according to plan for the two Life University runners.

"We didn't completely kill ourselves on the first uphill," said Skipper. "We were conserving energy."

Skipper and Atkinson caught Morse on the way back down to the lake. There was still a second big uphill before the finish line.

Nicole Morse, Charlene Sanchez
Leaders after a mile

"We passed the girl from Chipola [Morse]," said Skipper. "We could still hear her at two-and-a-half miles when we got to the last uphill. We worked together on the hill to stay ahead and then continued to work together till we were in sight of the finish."

Skipper dashed ahead to get the win in 21:56, while Atkinson took second in 22:04. Morse was third in 22:10. Sanchez placed fourth in 22:45.

Led by the one-two finish of Skipper and Atkinson, the Life University women scored 32 points to take the team title. Behind Sanchez, Paso-Hernando tallied 39 points and placed second. Frosh Samantha Reilly became the first Tallahassee Community College Eagle to finish a cross country race, placing seventh in 23:28 and leading her team to a third-place score of 75. Chipola was fourth in the team standings with 90 points.

Samantha Reilly
Samantha Reilly

Chipola, Pasco-Hernando, and Tallahassee will join South Florida State College for another first on 4 November 2016, the first Florida College System Activities Association women's cross country championship. The meet, also the NJCAA Region 8 Championship, is scheduled for the Apalachee Regional Park Championship Cross Country Course west of Tallahassee. Elizabeth Skipper knows that course well enough. A Bishop Moore Catholic High alumna, Skipper raced at ARPXC four times during high school. Cora Atkinson, an alumna of nearby Wakulla High, is also familiar with ARPXC. She also knew the Phipps Park course as well as anyone else in the race, having run there since high school.

"This is where I ran the first race of my first cross country season," said Atkinson. "And now it's where I've run the first race of my last cross country season."

For every first, a last. For every beginning, and ending.

Results, 2016 Cougar XC Challenge College Women's 5K
    Cougar Cross Country Challenge
  1. 21:55.58 ~ Elizabeth Skipper (Life University) SO
  2. 22:03.69 ~ Cora Atkinson (Life University) SR
  3. 22:09.19 ~ Nicole Morse (Chipola Community College) FR
  4. 22:44.39 ~ Charlene Sanchez (Pasco-Hernando State College) SO
  5. 23:01.09 ~ Tori Favela-Parra (Life University) SR
  6. 23:25.81 ~ Cynthia Negron (Pasco-Hernando State College) SO
  7. 23:27.31 ~ Samantha Reilly (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  8. 23:44.09 ~ Morgan Mattera (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  9. 23:54.22 ~ Annaliese Besaw (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  10. 23:58.61 ~ Tatiana Gonzales (Life University) FR
  11. 24:03.17 ~ Mia Wiederkehr (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  12. 24:08.14 ~ Marffee Simbulan (Pasco-Hernando State College) SO
  13. 24:12.34 ~ Kylyn Burbine (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  14. 24:16.01 ~ Nylah Brown (Life University) FR
  15. 24:16.58 ~ Angirika Colbert (Life University) JR
  16. 24:36.31 ~ Monet Madeux (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  17. 24:48.10 ~ Aaleigah Knight (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  18. 24:53.68 ~ Lydia Wiedeman (Chipola Community College) SO
  19. 25:37.18 ~ Amanda Atkinson (Pasco-Hernando State College) SO
  20. 26:27.73 ~ Ava Thompson (Pasco-Hernando State College) SO
  21. 26:37.69 ~ Jeanna Prisco (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  22. 26:40.08 ~ Lauren Hale (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  23. 27:15.29 ~ Jade Smelcer (Chipola Community College) FR
  24. 27:26.27 ~ Marianna Sanchez (Life University) SR
  25. 27:41.36 ~ Ellie Stubblefield (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  26. 27:54.46 ~ Angela Goldstein (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  27. 28:01.25 ~ Jessica Rodriguez (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  28. 28:58.02 ~ Aubrey Crespo (Pasco-Hernando State College) FR
  29. 30:04.10 ~ Maria Julia (Life University) FR
  30. 30:09.40 ~ Clover Carithers (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  31. 30:15.55 ~ Conner Melvin (Chipola Community College) FR
  32. 30:33.19 ~ Hannah Redmond-Rees (Chipola Community College) SO
  33. 31:16.75 ~ Jasmine Green (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  34. 31:29.47 ~ Regan Ward (Tallahassee Community College) FR
  35. 37:22.40 ~ Hanne Polden (Life University) JR

Team standings, 2016 Cougar XC Challenge College Women's 5K
  1. Life University, 32
  2. Pasco-Hernando State College, 39
  3. Tallahassee Community College, 75
  4. Chipola Community College, 90


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