Lady Eagles take lessons from first NCCAA Championship experience

OC's Tavia Hoheisel runs down the stretch on Saturday in the NCCAA Championship in Cedarville, Ohio.
OC's Tavia Hoheisel runs down the stretch on Saturday in the NCCAA Championship in Cedarville, Ohio.

By Murray Evans
CEDARVILLE, Ohio (Nov. 10, 2012) – Consider Saturday’s NCCAA Championship meet a lesson learned for the Oklahoma Christian Lady Eagles.

None of OC’s four runners – who are all freshmen or sophomores – had any experience racing in a national meet. They might not have finished as well as they wanted, but coach Wade Miller hopes they picked up on the little things that will help them down the road in big races.

“We had a very young team race today and came away with some good national championship experience,” Miller said. “I think all the ladies would have liked to have run faster, but they definitely gave 100 percent. I’m happy with their effort.”

On a morning with temperatures in the 50s, freshman Tara Lewis led OC with a 43rd-place finish, covering the grassy 5,000-meter Elvin R. King Cross Country Course in 19:38.56. Lewis, who was aiming for a top-15 finish, said a stiff, cool breeze which blew throughout the race bothered her some.

She wasn’t far behind the leaders after the first 1,000 meters, but Lewis never was able to make a significant move. Still, she finished in the upper 20 percent of the 255-woman field.

“You hate to see a race not go your way in the national championship,” Miller said.

Sophomore Noemi Hernandez also posted a top-100 finish, placing 94th in 20:36.89. OC’s other two runners also had respectable finishes – sophomore Tavia Hoheisel was 141st in 21:31.50, while freshman Maria Sargent was just a few steps behind in 147th with a time of 21:40.86 – her season best.

Individual winner Jennifer Mallen of California Baptist finished in 17:43.20. Azusa Pacific (Calif.) took the team title with a score of 80, followed by Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) at 102 and Malone (Ohio) at 110.

Mller said he believes OC could have posted a top-10 team finish had two of the Lady Eagles’ top runners, Jacqueline Hallam and Cassandra Hallam, not had to miss the race due to injury and illness, respectively.

“I would have liked to have seen how we would have done,” he said.