Niemann Comes Through in the Long Run at UGA
BISHOP, Ga. – Mercer University junior Kacie Niemann started the 2011 year off on the right foot – literally – as she earned a top-five finish at the prestigious Georgia Bulldog Invitational at the UGA Equestrian Center.
Niemann obliterated her own school record for the 5K, running an 18:07.34 that lopped more than 13 seconds off of her previous mark (18:21.03 set last season at the A-Sun championships). Niemann was fifth in the overall standings with only four runners from UGA's perennially-strong team ahead of her. She out-distanced all of the runners from Alabama, Georgia State, Tulane and Georgia Tech in the race.
It was the fourth time in Niemann's career that she has bettered Mercer's school record in the 5K event.
As a team, the Bears finished sixth out of eight teams in the event. Sophomore Sammy Woller was MU's second finisher in 48th place out of the 93 runners (20:04.02).
"The team as a whole ran OK, but some of them looked a little tired," MU Head Coach Ryan Bailey said. "I gave them a 'mini-taper' to prepare for the race, but we have had a pretty tough couple of weeks. I know there is a lot more 'gas in the tank' and we'll get steadily better as the season goes on.
"It was gratifying to see Kacie (Niemann) have a top-five finish at a meet of this caliber and to lower her own school record once again. Her workouts have been going extremely well. She seems to be feeling good and I honestly can't predict how far she might take things this season. She's an extremely tough competitor and is an ambitious athlete who won't be satisfied to rest on her laurels."