The weather and atmosphere could not have been more perfect for the biggest race of the year up to this point. "We knew this would be a great chance for everyone to really test their fitness. With over 300 runners and a couple of AAC teams, there would be no excuses today", said Coach Nichols leading up to the Royals Challenge. "We wanted to get our hard, practice our pack running and really start to race. We have run very well up to this point, but have not really RACED. Today we raced." The Koalas finished 35th out of 45 teams, which mainly consisted of NCAA D1 and D2 opponents. Alyssa Waibel led the Koalas with a new school record and 34 second PR time of 19:03. "I know Alyssa can break 18 minutes before she is out of college and today was the first step. She really got to see how fast she really can go". Without their regular #2 runner, first year Hannah Mishkoff really stepped up, coming in with a season best of 21:30. Another first year was right behind her with her own career best – Heather Woolard (21:57). Diana Gleaton, first year, also had a season best time of 22:28 as she came in following Woolard. Racing in the jersey for the first time this year and not far behind, was Kennedy Beach (22:45). Overcoming an early season heat stroke, Ayanah Howard showed she was back in form outkicking 7 runners in the last 200m for a time of 22:48. First year Ashlyn Phipps took many steps in the right direction with a strong last mile. Her time was 23:44. After her shoulder surgery this past summer, sophomore Brittany Robbins was able to run a strong time of 27:30. Julisa Echverria fought hard, despite not feeling 100% (29:20). Rounding out the competition for the Koalas was Allison Scrimpsher. She really pushed herself mentally today and came out with a time of 31:15.
The Koalas will be back in action this upcoming Saturday at the Sandshark Invite hosted by USCB.