April 16, 2011

Bears Go Distance at Auburn Invitational


AUBURN, Ala. – Mercer University's cross country runners gave an impressive showing in the distance events at Auburn University's War Eagle Invitational over the weekend as a part of the squad's spring training. 


The performance of the meet for the Bears undoubtedly came from freshman phenom, Linda Batna, in the women's 1500 meter race. Batna topped 27 other entrants to win the run in a time of 4:41.38, out-distancing Georgia State's Danyel Mitchell in second place by nearly two full seconds.  MU's Latvian import's time would have placed seventh in the 10-person 1500-meter special invitational race at the War Eagle event, as well.


Fellow freshman Samantha Woller was 10th in the 1500 behind Batna, clocking a 4:54.32.


In other races, Lena Hamvas and Christina Kivi placed eighth and 22nd, respectively, in the women's 5000 meters. Hamvas ran an 18:25.91, while Kivi checked in with a 19:20.34.  Kasie Knapper was eighth in the 3000 steeplechase, finishing at 12:50.04.


On the men's side, head coach Ryan Bailey's crew fulfilled his challenge to have six runners run sub-16:00 minute efforts in the men's 5000 meters. And, the sextet did so with room to spare!


Sophomore Jacob Law paced MU amongst the 40-man field of runners. Law finished sixth overall in a time of 15:08.56. Sophomores Andrew Weems was 20th in a time of 15:32.23, with freshman Sony Prosper in 22nd at 15:34.02.  Senior Marc Kushinka and Chris Svidesskis were 25th (15:34.78) and 26th (15:34.82), respectively, in their neck-and-neck finish.


The sixth finisher, freshman Kasib Abdullah, was Bailey's "question mark" entering the event, but left no doubt by race's end. Abdullah, who had never been under the 16:00 barrier, crashed through with a personal-best time of 15:44.61 (27th overall).


Weems also finished well in the 3000 steeplechase by placing fourth, prior to running the 5000. Weems finished the steeplechase in a time of 9:46.00.