Fort Dodge, IA – Sophomore Anais Da Silva earned her 13th All-American Award with a 6th place finish at the NJCAA Cross Country National Championships to lead the Lady Blazers to a 9th place team finish, the best in school history.
After the men’s race had concluded, the gates were moved, and the course was arranged to accommodate the women’s 5,000-meter race distance. As the starter blew the whistle and raised his starting pistol in the air, the women came set. The cannon blew, and the women were off!
Da Silva quickly made her way into the top-10 runners as the field made the first turn. Fellow Trailblazers Maisie Lay, Sydney Davidson, Wendy Catalan, Liz Bredeweg, and Nacketa Scanlon made their way into good racing positions as well.
At just after the 2,000-meter mark, Da Silva led the chase pack in 5th place. The pack made a sharp turn, and her feet became tangled with several other runners. She fell, and was stepped on by several runners before she was able to get up, and will her way forward.
Da Silva would move her way through the field, and claw her way back to a 6th place finish, earning All-American Honors. Despite the fall, Da Silva’s time of 18 minutes and 10 seconds re-breaks her own Vincennes University record, and was the fastest time run by a Vincennes University athlete at the NJCAA National Cross Country Championships.
Da Silva said after the race, “I am happy with the race. I was really upset about being tripped, and it hurt a lot when I got stepped on, but I knew I couldn’t just give up. My team was counting on me. My coaching staff was counting on me. I had worked too hard for my VU career to end like that. So I got back up, and I kept telling myself to stay relaxed, and that I had this. I am so happy I chose Vincennes to start my collegiate running career. I am so proud to be a part of this team, and I am so proud of what we accomplished this season.”
Fellow sophomore Maisie Lay finished 51st in 19:33, Sydney Davidson finished 72nd in a personal best effort of 19:53, Wendy Catalan finished 82nd in 20:11, Liz Bredeweg finished 115th in 20:24, and sophomore Nacketa Scanlon rounded things out for the Trailblazers in 20:41.
“Again, it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but top-10 in the nation is a great way to finish what has been a historic season on the women’s side. 9th is the best finish our women’s team has ever had at the National Meet, and it was absolutely, 100% because of the fantastic group of young women on our team. They are a very mature, veteran group, that was driven to push themselves, and be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. I couldn’t be more proud of Anais, and the heart she showed today. She very easily could have given up. Packed it in after she fell, and just decide it wasn’t going to happen today. That it wasn’t fair. She didn’t though. She didn’t hang her head after the race. Her attitude, her drive, her ability to raise the bar was contagious, and I believe it was the key to the success of our women’s team this year. The other girls fed off her energy, and they went out and found some success of their own this season. She will be greatly missed moving forward.”
The Vincennes University Cross-Country teams will return to action this Saturday at the NJCAA Half-Marathon National Championships in Topeka, Kansas! Go VU!