University of Richmond freshman Katie Spratford has taken down most of the junior cross country runners in the United States, and now she may be able to put her athletic prowess to the test against the rest of the world.
Spratford finished 14th in the 6-kilometer race in 22 minutes, 13 seconds at the U.S. Cross Country Championship in Derwood, Md., on Saturday afternoon. By finishing in the top-15, she has a shot to represent the United States at the World Cross Country Championships, which will be held March 28 in Amman, Jordan.
"It would be a great experience," said Spratford, a Califon, N.J., native. "Just getting to travel with great athletes would be great."
The U.S. team is composed of the top six finishers from the qualifying race. In order for Spratford to run at the World Championships, seven runners would need to drop out of the race.
If Spratford were to make the team, it would be the first runner from Richmond to run in the race under women's cross country coach Lori Taylor during her eight-year tenure at the school. The women's team was also represented by Morgantown, W.Va., freshman Emma Berry, who finished 33rd in 23:07.
Richmond freshman Tim Smith ran in the junior men's 8K race and encountered some tough luck. He finished 37th in 26:26 after falling and injuring his hip during the race.
The fall came after Smith descended one of the race's many muddy hills. A runner ahead of Smith fell, forcing him to hurdle the runner, he said.
"I landed on my heel and fell on my right hip," Smith said. "It hindered me in the race."
The injury set Smith back the rest of the race, preventing him from finishing in the top-20 -- his pre-race goal, said Steve Taylor, Richmond men's cross country coach.
"Tim ran all right today," Steve Taylor said. "He got tripped up and fell. He got hurt pretty bad. It's not quite where he wanted to be [in 37th place]. In all, it was kind of a somber day."
While the results might not have been what Smith was hoping for, he said that he will still be able to take some positives out of the race.
"It was a very good experience," he said. "I'm able to say that I've been to the U.S. Cross Country Championships."
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Spratford also said she was not performing at peak physical condition. After running a 5K last week, she said her legs felt tired. That was a reality not lost on her coach.
"She really didn't look good today," Lori Taylor said. "She looked tired today. [But] you can always count on her."
If Spratford is going to run at the World Cross Country Championships, she said that she would not feel any pressure.
"I just want to do my best," she said. "When you are having fun, you don't feel pressure."
This version of the story CORRECTS Spratford's finishing place to 14th STED 13th.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at firstname.lastname@example.org
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