There were plenty of roars early Saturday, as North Alabama hosted a home cross country meet for the first time in 2 years.
From the cheers from many members of the community to the yells from several members of teams, coaches and prominent figures within UNA, it was a good day for the running community. It’s an experience head coach Jeremy Provence is glad everyone felt.
“It’s the first one in so long so a lot of the folks that were here have never experienced a cross country meet, “Provence said. “So for them to come out and just enjoy the moment and learn the ends and outs of a meet it was just really exciting to see.”
UNA’s fans showed up in numbers. The crowd consisted of the community’s daily runners, UNA President Ken Kitts, head women’s basketball coach Missy Tibert, and head women’s soccer coach Chris Walker, whose team filled the sidelines to cheer on the Lions. Several UNA professors were in attendance as well. For the players, to see familiar faces in the crowd gave them a moment that they won’t soon forget.
“Ever since it’s been announced, we’ve been looking forward to it,” UNA men’s cross country runner Devin Berry said. “It just felt different coming here and waking up knowing that we were here with a bunch of people that we knew. From family members, friends, and teachers that we knew, it felt amazing.”
UNA women’s cross country runner Kara Nix had similar feelings but with a slightly different angle to her teammate.
“That was the most exciting race that I’ve ever gotten to be a part of,” Nix said. “In high school, I never got a home race so when we walked in at 7 and we already saw UNA people coming in and during the race just seeing a sea of purple supporting us, it was the best environment you could ask for.”
UNA’s men won the team title with a score of 37. Six runners finished in the top 15, including junior Peyton Ewoldt’s team-best fourth place finish in 25:59.80
UNA’s women were third with a score of 47. Emma Knight led the way with a third-place finish in 18:30.20
North Alabama has been unable to host a home cross country event for several years due to flooding that can occur frequently in McFarland Park. McFarland is home to a well-sized venue that would play host to the 8K run that the men’s team participated in and the 5K that the women ran.
Lions go 0-3: North Alabama lost twice on the final day of the Samford Invitational Saturday, falling to in-state foes UAB and Jacksonville State.
UNA (1-5) dropped a 3-1 decision to UAB in its first match, losing 22-25, 18-25, 25-21, 21-25 defeat. The match against JSU was not as competitive. The Lions struggled on offense, falling 25-13, 25-12, 25-20 to the Gamecocks.
Alyssa Dutton finished with 14 kills and added 12 digs. Christina Ellwanger added 12 kills while Morgan Madasz reached double figures with 10 kills. Breylee Linder notched 40 assists and 10 digs for the match.
Defensively, Mackenzie Sullivan had 16 digs and Elizabeth Ford also had 13 digs.
Jacksonville State held UNA without a player in double figures in kills. Linder had 19 assists, but the Lions hit .102.
On Friday, Samford downed UNA 3-0 loss, 25-15, 25-20, 25-14.
Dutton had 8 kills. Linder added 22 assists and Mackenzie Sullivan’ had 7 digs.
Tennessee Tech 2, UNA 1: After tying the match in the 84th minute, Tennessee Tech scored the game-winner in overtime to rally past the Lions (2-3).
It was Tennessee Tech’s first win.
Shelby Wall’s goal off a penalty kick from 30 yards out gave the Lions a 1-0 lead at the 29:25 mark. It was her fourth goal.
Bailey Taylor scored an unassisted goal to tie it in the 84th minute. Casidy Bereda scored off an assist from Tina Marolt for the game winner.
UNA hosts Alabama A&M today at 1 p.m.