Former Cards run at NCAA Division II championship
Temperatures in the mid 20s and snowy weather, generally does not make for good running conditions, especially if you are about to run six miles.
But for former Eudora cross country runners Megan Ballock and Brittney Graff, that snowy six-mile stretch was the culmination of the season for the Pittsburg State Gorillas cross country team at the NCAA Division II Championships Sunday at Slippery Rock, Pa.
The course had to be plowed, and the former Eudora runners had to wear bigger spikes on their shoes because of the conditions.
“We went into it just thinking it would be fun because we really hadn’t done anything like that,” Ballock said. “And it was a lot of fun. During the race we didn’t even notice the cold. And it was just fun to do to run in a different environment.”
Graff finished 58th overall with a time of 23:25, and Ballock finished 101st with a time of 24:04. The Pitt State girls finished 18th overall.
Pittsburg State qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championship by placing third at the South Central Regionals at Live Oak, Texas, Nov. 8.
Graff, a sophomore, finished 18th with a time of 22:34 at regionals and notched three finishes in the top 10 this year. Ballock, also a sophomore, had two finishes in the top 20 this season. Ballock came in 31st with a time of 23:07 at regionals.
Both runners have battled injuries, and Graff’s run Sunday was the first time in a while she ran injury free.
“I was healthy,” Graff said. “That was nice. I keep getting little injuries, but it’s gone pretty well. I really love being at Pittsburg State.”
Ballock did not compete last year because of a stress fracture and iron deficiency problems. Ballock took a medical redshirt and has since recovered. The two former Cardinals runners hold many school records in both cross country and track. The two also are on the Pittsburg State track team, and the girls will now begin preparing for indoor track season.
Ballock is a family and consumer science major, and Graff is a nursing major. Graff was named to the MIAA All-Academic team in 2007. Both girls still keep up on Eudora athletics, especially cross country.
“All the way from middle school to high school, they’ve both been record-setting performers,” Eudora cross country coach Paul Boone said. “Both of those girls really fit in with what our girls are right now. They’re high-achieving people and positive. They impact a lot of other things going on. If there’s something involved, they’re involved with it to make it better.”
Boone said he was pleased that the two former Cardinals were finally healthy again.
“I’m just really thrilled with how they’re feeling now,” Boone said. “They’ve put together a good team and have really had some good energy down there at Pittsburg State.”