DSC cross country finishes NAIA championship with highest result in school history

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Dalton State College's cross country team poses with the trophy after winning the Southern States Athletic Conference championship in November. The Lady Roadrunners finished 18th in the country at the NAIA national championship meet on Friday.

The Dalton State College cross country team finished 18th in the NAIA national championship meet on Friday, the best finish in school history for the Lady Roadrunners.

The national championship, held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was won by Illinois' St. Francis. Dalton State, which won the Southern States Athletic Conference championship in November, completed its extended cross country season at the meet. The national championship is usually held in the fall, but was postponed this year due to COVID-19.

Sophomore Kathryn Vradenburgh led Dalton State, who ran a college career best 18:16 and finished 19th overall. That was good enough for her to garner All-American honors. Vradenburgh was 29th with less than a quarter of a mile to go and finished with a strong kick.

Freshman Riley Jo Ford was the next finisher for the Lady Roadrunners, at 63rd place with a season best time of 18:52. She became only the third Lady Roadrunner to finish in under 19 minutes for any 5K (3.1 mile) cross country race. Finishing third for Dalton State was junior Alex Gass. Her time of 19:41 was good enough for 160th place overall, and was just two seconds and six places ahead of senior Kay Vradenburgh, who finished 166th in 19:43.

Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Roadrunners was sophomore Kate Roberts, who ran a college career best 20:11. That placed her 211th. Also running a college career best was the number six Roadrunner, freshman Kayla Mattox. She cut 18 seconds from her previous best time when she crossed the line in 20:42. Also competing for the Lady Birds was sophomore Haley Tillery.

"I am so very proud of these ladies," Dalton State head coach Dean Thompson said. "They went to the national championships determined to show the rest of the country what they could do and they represented Dalton State College very well. I don't know what the best finish has been for SSAC schools in the women's national championship race, but we finished as high as any I have seen. These ladies have a lot to be proud of."

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