Nothing was going to stop Ranger College freshman Alexandra Evans from finishing her first appearance in the Region V Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27. Not heavy rains that created deep mud bogs and puddles - and even a tractor buried up to its axles – on the trail.
And certainly not a lost shoe.
Evans helped spur the Ranger College women to a fourth-place finish in the Region V meet by running almost half of the race through stickers, rocks and mud with just one shoe. Backed by her effort, the Lady Rangers finished just nine points out of third in the final standings. El Paso Community College won the regional title, edging out South Plains and New Mexico Military Institute.
For Evans, the drama began early in the 5-kilometer race. Less than 500 yards into the 3.1-mile race, she found herself in a pack of about 20 runners attempting to navigate their way past a tractor that had become buried in the trail. While running, her left foot sank deep into a muddy bog. When she pulled her foot from the muck, her shoe remained buried.
"I was trying to step across the mud where the tractor was and my shoe got stuck," said Evans, a freshman from Mullin, Texas. "I was, like, 'I can't stop and look for it and try to put it back on. I guess I'll just have to keep going.'"
Evans said it didn't take long for her to feel the effects of her decision.
"I regretted it when I ran across the rock," she said. "I was going across the rocks all hobblily. Plus, it made me a lot slower. When I was in the mud, every time I'd try and take a step my foot was sliding back. I was just determined to finish."
Fortunately for Evans, Ranger College Registrar Robert Culverhouse, who was serving as a race marshal, saved Evans more discomfort. After the runners had passed his checkpoint near where a tractor had become buried to its axels in the trail, Culverhouse extracted her shoe and placed it where she could get to it on the final lap of the race.
"When I saw somebody had found my shoe, I was like, 'OK. I slipped it on really quick and kept on running. It was definitely and interesting race for me," said Evans, who finished 38th over at 24:55.93
Jessica Thomas-Billott also enjoyed an interesting outing for the RC women. A freshman from France, she garnered the Lady Rangers' fastest outing, checking in at No. 12 in the final standings. Thomas-Billott completed the course in a time of 21 minutes, 1,82 seconds.
Catherine Lopez and Ezrie Gates also turned in solid outings. The two combined with Thomas-Billott to give Ranger three top 25 runners by placing 18th and 22nd, respectively. Lopez finished 21:48.47, while Gates checked in at 22:32.39.
Alexandra Luna and Yenifer Martinez rounded out the Lady Rangers' efforts. Luna, a sophomore from San Benito, Texas, was 26th with a mark of 23:00.49. A freshman from Irving, Texas, Martinez was 32nd at 23:48.03.
The RC women will vie for a top 25 national ranking on Nov. 10 when they compete in the NJCAA National Championships in Garden City, Kansas.