The GMC Cross Country season ended on a high note in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The men's team raced to a 3rd place finish while the women's team finished 4th; these are the highest finishes in program history. Paige White and Nicquelette Fazekas became the programs' first All-Americans.
In windy and cold conditions, the women's and men's teams participated in the NJCAA DIII National Championship hosted by Iowa Central Community College in Ft. Dodge, IA. With the temperature around 36 degrees F and winds up to 25 mph, it was a far cry from the warm Saturday weather in Milledgeville. Both teams had worked extremely hard during the season to prepare for the National Championship. "One of the things we could not prepare for was the weather," Coach Sherwood said. "It is hard to replicate the mid-30's and windy in Milledgeville!" Despite the cold weather, the teams performed the best in the history of the program.
The GMC Lady Bulldogs entered the race as the third-ranked team in the most recent poll. The Lady Bulldogs, led by Telfair County graduate Paige White (McRae, GA), finished in 7th place. Close behind, Nicquelette Fazekas (Dixon, IL) in 9th place. These two became the first GMC Cross Country runners to achieve All-American status as they were named as NJCAA 2nd Team All-Americans. "Both Page and Nicquelette have worked well this entire season together and pushed each other. They led the team both on and off the course. They were a pleasure to have on the team," commented Coach Sherwood. Treeaunna Whiting (San Antonio, TX) finished in 20th place, with Vanessa Alvarez (Marco Island, FL) in 26th and Madison Nimmons (Lexington, GA) in 28th. The ladies finished in 4th place as a team, the highest placing ever for the GMC Women at the NJCAA National Championship. With four of the top five runners anticipated back for the 2021 season, the Lady Bulldogs will be in a position to raise the bar even higher in 2021.
The Men's team also set a record as they finished in 3rd place in their 8k race. Daniel Turnipseed (Blythewood, SC) was the fastest Bulldog of the day as he finished in 20th place. Jacob Cain (Brandon, FL) finished 22nd, followed closely by Heath McDonald (Bogart, GA) in 26th. Jessie Booth (McDonough, GA) and Bo Meadors (Plymouth, IN) finished in 30th and 31st places, respectively. This close grouping of 11 spots between the top and 5th runner allowed the team to place 3rd. "This is the first time that GMC has earned 'hardware' and a National Cross Country meet!" exclaimed Coach Sherwood. "It is a testament to the entire team, not just the five that were in Iowa of their work this season. I am really excited for the team!"
Assistant Athletic Director Greg Zecca, who traveled with the teams to Iowa, could not be more excited about the team's accomplishments; he commented: "It is always inspiring to see our athletes have success on the national stage."
With the programs on the rise, there is no doubt that the Bulldogs will welcome the home course advantage as they when they host the 2021 National Championship at Council Farms.