By Adam Schabel
The Cleveland State cross country team kept their successful season going as they finished fourth at the Horizon League Championship on Saturday, Oct. 28 in Rochester, Michigan.
“Placing fourth at HLC was an unforgettable experience because our goal was to beat Wright State and we did just that. We beat them by 3 points,” senior Karen Barrientos said. “It was a tough race out there and we stayed strong despite the conditions.”
The fourth-place finish was tied for the best finish in the history of the program. The Vikings also finished fourth in 2011. Cleveland State collected 122 points as a team.
“I was thrilled that we were able to accomplish that. As a team, we were hoping to do well and we were all so excited,” freshman Anna Brandt said. “Now we will have to see what next year has in store and if we can hold that record instead of tying it. It will definitely be tough to do after losing [seniors] Karen [Barrientos] and Sam [Butterbaugh].”
The Vikings were led by usual top finishers, Brandt and Barrientos. Both runners finished in the top-10, which gave them All-Horizon League honors.
“I was very surprised and honored. I knew the race was going to be competitive and tough, but I was very thankful to have Karen there,” Brandt said. “We were able to keep pushing each other during the whole race and continue to move closer to the front.”
Brandt finished first on the team and seventh overall in the race as she posted a time of 22:52. She was also named the Freshman of the Year because she was the first freshman to cross the finish line at the league championship.
“At first I was shocked. I did not realize that I was the first freshman to finish. I thought there were other freshmen who would have received that award other than myself,” Brandt said. “After the shock went away, I felt honored and fortunate to have the team and coaching staff that kept pushing me to work harder every day.”
Barrientos finished one second behind Brandt with a time of 22:53, which put her in eighth place. She earned All-Horizon League Second Team.
“It was an honorable experience, and although I would have liked to have been a part of All-Horizon League First Team my last year of cross [country], it was still a memorable experience with such an uplifting team and supportive family and friends,” Barrientos said. “I was grateful to have Anna [Brandt] as a competitive teammate my last year because competition at practices makes for better races.”
Brandt and Barrientos’ times both rank in the top-15 on the Cleveland State Top Performances List.
The next Viking to finish the race was sophomore Jessica Finley. She came in 19th place overall with a time of 23:24. The next two finishers for Cleveland State were Samantha Butterbaugh and Olivia Hammons. Butterbaugh placed 40th with a time of 24:05 and Hammons placed 52nd with a time of 24:27.