Despite a stacked Great Lakes Challenge field — where exactly half of the teams in the field either were ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Top 25 Poll — Shawnee State’s Brooke Smith was able to run a 18:39 to claim 11th place overall in the 272-runner field while becoming one of only 24 runners in the entire Women’s Maroon 5K to post a time of under 19 minutes.
As a result, Smith, a senior from Wheelersburg, was able to accumulate her third Mid-South Conference Runner of the Week Award, and the seventh of her career, on Monday as announced by conference officials.
Smith, who came within 24 seconds of her season-low time of 18:15 that was set at the #JennaStrong Fall Invitational, proved to be Shawnee State’s fastest runner for the third consecutive race with her stout mark on Saturday. Since returning from injury at the Michigan State Spartan Invitational on Sept. 13, Smith has been a top-two runner for Shawnee State in each of the five races that she’s competed in since that time.
In the meet itself, Smith’s time allowed the No. 20-ranked Bears to finish ahead of several notable foes, including No. 22 Columbia (Mo.) and No. 25 Tennessee Wesleyan. Shawnee State also finished ahead of Bethel (Ind.) and Indiana Tech, who were receiving votes as of the latest NAIA Women’s Cross Country Top 25 Poll.
For the season, Smith has finished in the top quarter of every meet that she has raced in during the 2019 season and has finished inside the top-50 in three of the five meets that she has ran in, with her lowest finish being 66th in the All-Ohio Championships. She’s also collected finishes of 30th at the Spartan Invitational, 54th at the Greater Louisville Classic, and her season best time and placement of third — via her 18:15 — at the aforementioned #JennaStrong Fall Invitational.
The women’s cross country unit, along with the men, will be back in action on Saturday, Nov. 9 when the two units compete at the Mid-South Conference Championships in Bowling Green, Ky. They’ll each be looking for their 10th consecutive conference title — which accounts for each of the Mid-South Conference’s Cross Country meets that have been held for both programs since the 2010 season.