The Cyclone cross-country team performed well at their first and only home race of the season, the 18th annual cross-country invitational meet last Friday.
"I think it's the best race that the team has had this year," said junior Amelia Axtell, one of nine first-year athletes on the team this year. There are also six returning athletes, bringing the team's enrollment to 15, the largest in eight years.
For the second year in a row, the team donated 100 percent of the meet's proceeds from entering teams and individuals to the Milo Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill animal shelter in located in Willets, Calif., in desperate need of help.
The meet's proceeds came from the eight entering teams who entered to run the notoriously tough course with their community, including the Mills team, and two independent runners, Mills alumna Marina Li, '02 and Jack Warde, father of senior Cyclone Emily Warde.
"The course is always difficult, so I'm glad to have run as good as I did," said sophomore Jordan Trew, who ran a personal best of 26:10 on the course, a 3.1 mile loop around campus.
"It was a real honor to run it one more time," said Melody Ferris, a senior fourth-year runner. Ferris, who finished in 25:51, is one of only two fourth-year athletes in the history of Mills' cross-country program; this was her final home competition.
After a moment of consideration and with tears of joy on her face, she admitted she would probably return next year to enter as an independent runner. "The Mills team is so amazing," Ferris said. "The support and the energy that we feel on this course is what drives me to finish more than on any other course."
Up next for the Cyclones are the conference championships at Pacific Union College in Angwin, Calif., on the 28th followed by the regional championships in Fresno on Nov. 5, where runners will have an opportunity to qualify for the national championships.
Chiong believes the team is right where they need to be going into the most important part of their season. "As the head coach, I'm very proud of this team," she said. "Every time they go to a meet they represent Mills. Their love of what they do is evident."