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Wednesday December 13th 2017

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Women win GPAC cross country title

(11.29.16) By Jaden Lux–The women’s cross country team took home first at the GPAC meet on November 5 for the first time in school history.

Tiffany Shepherd, senior and team captain, recalls the moment: “It was very humbling winning GPAC and overall it was an exciting day. It’s hard to put it into words. There was so much going on at that time, but we knew we could do it, and getting there in the end was really something special.”

Winning GPAC was something that she continued to envision as she led the women through a variety of challenging meets. Regardless of other obstacles leading up to the conference meet, Shepherd found this one in particular to be crucial for her participation in getting the girls ready to go.

“Going into the race, I had to tell myself that everything will be ok, I had to keep myself calm and keep the girls calm. I tried not to show I was nervous, but still able to get excited about it. I danced around with [the girls] to calm them down. I knew from the practices and everything that we did that we could do it. So I had to keep that mind,” Shepherd said.

David Nash, Morningside’s cross country coach, was elated by the women’s monumental victory.

“When it was over it was so close. When I finally heard it, it was subdued excitement because we had another race, but it was such a special day.”

Coach Nash has led a number of individual women to the national meet, but never a women’s team with this amount of talent down the line. This team has won a number of smaller meets throughout the 2016 season, but didn’t let their guard down for the ultimate battle.

“A lot of teams have that one-two punch, but it was clearly a team effort. It was a three-point difference on Saturday. I kept saying whomever had a better breakfast between the three teams was going to win. I guess we had a better breakfast,” says Nash enthusiastically.

One Morningside male runner, Alec DeVries, qualified for the national meet and witnessed the women’s victory first hand.

“It was a historic moment for the girls, and it was well fought! It was great to see Tiffany lead the team to victory. They deserved it, and it was good to see the women win for the first time just as the men did three years earlier,” says DeVries.

Coach Nash couldn’t feel more strongly about the same historic moment.

“This is a day that’s even more than just winning. I was part of this program in the 80’s, and this has been going on for decades in any track and field or Cross Country championships. It’s a victory for women’s sports. This is a huge step for women in small schools and Morningside in particular.”

At the national meet, Morningside women ended their season with an 18th place ranking in the NAIA post-season poll.