Milligan track squad musters top 10 finishes

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   This weekend's Appalachian State Invitational yielded four Milligan runners that finished in the top ten of their events. The Buffaloes traveled to Boone, N.C. on Friday and Saturday to test their legs against a throng of colleges and universities.
   In Friday evening's events, the Buffs competed in both the men's and women's distance medley relays, with Sean Bowman, Chris Wright, Josh Ferry and Jair Collie leading the men to a first-place finish with a time of 10:30.
   Bowman ran for 1600 meters, Wright for 1200, Ferry for 800, and Collie for 400.
   The women's distance medley team finished with a time of 13:15. Marta Zimon ran the 1600 leg, Lauren Gross handled 1200 meters, while Megan Lease and Allison Langrel ran for 800 and 400 meters.
   Milligan put two runners in the top ten of the men's 3000 Saturday morning. Bowman finished fifth with an 8:59 run, with Wright on his heels, finishing in 8:59.3 to take seventh place.
   Brandon Talbert rounded out Milligan's 3000-meter run with a time of 9:33.4. In the women's race, Lease took seventh place in 10:53 minutes, while Gross finished twelfth with a time of 11:18. Amber Peace finished in 12:38, and Rachel Carriger crossed the line for Milligan in 13:02.
   Before the meet, track coach Chris Layne said that the ASU track was a slow one, mainly because of the turns. His team echoed his opinion after racing on the indoor track.
   "It's very tough; lots of turns," said Wright.
   He also found the higher elevation to affect his running. "Altitude has got to add some time. It's just very slow."
   Poland native Zimon said that in addition to the drawn-out turns, she also didn't like the cramped running conditions.
   "Most people say it's better when you can see each other when you are running, and that's how it works here. I don't like it. There are so many curves. I guess what happened with me during my race -- my foot started hurting me because I have to curve a lot."
   Zimon, who qualified for the national competition in last week's Niswonger Invitational, was Milligan's only female runner to compete in the mile run, and took a third-place finish in 5:20.5 minutes. Lease will also accompany Zimon to the national competition at ETSU in March.
   Zimon admitted that winning the 5000-meter run in nationals last year has been a source of extra pressure this year.
   "They expect me to be in the top," she said. "It's really difficult when people are telling you, 'Oh yeah, you'll be okay -- you're our national champion.'"
   Ferry and Collie competed in the men's mile, finishing with times of 4:43.3 and 4:48.5, respectively. Talbert was the only Buffalo running in the men's 800-meter race, finishing in 2:12.6.
   Gross was Milligan's first runner to cross the line in the women's 800 with a time of 2:46.6, with Lease following in at 2:48.24. Peace was only a step behind, finishing in 2:49.73.
   Langrel competed in both the 400 and 200-meter race for Milligan. She ran the 400 in 64.24 seconds, and the 200 in 28.2 seconds.
   For the men's team, Ferry, Bowman, and Wright will compete in the NAIA national competition. Wright is looking forward to it. "I'm excited," he said. "I'm really excited. I'm staying positive, and I know workouts and races are going really well. I'm in really good shape, and the team is doing well too."
   The team will travel to Virginia Tech on February 13th and 14th. Zimon thinks the meet will be an easier one than ASU. ãMy best time, which I ran last year, I ran over there,ä she said.