By Colin Shields / Online Editor

In just her second ever race for the Hutchinson Community College cross country team, Serenity Larson is already making history.

With a time of 18 minutes and 41 seconds, Larson posted the second fastest 5,000-meter race in school history to lead the Blue Dragons to a fourth place finish at the Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational, on Sept. 17 in Lincoln, Neb.

Serenity Larson

 “Serenity is a really talented runner … but she is a whole different runner when it comes to race time. She just goes at it, she’s a relentless runner,” said Blue Dragons coach Justin Riggs.

Getting ready for the season did not come easy for Larson who, just a week before reporting to HutchCC over the summer, contracted Covid-19 virus and was forced to sit out and quarantine.

“Right before I came here, I got a pretty bad case of Covid. I was really nervous coming in, but the environment has been great and made it easy to come back quickly,” Larson said.

The success doesn’t stop at Larson’s times for the women’s cross country team. Sophomore Louise Cocking is one of the three other runners in Larson’s running group that push each other’s pace every day. “Having the girls around me, they were challenging me everyday during practice, and it really showed me that ‘I am capable of this’ when I was working back to getting ready when I came in,” Larson said.

The Blue Dragons, ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA, had four top 100 finishers to finish the event in Lincoln in fourth  place of the Gold Division, which featured many teams from the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 levels. The fourth-place finish was good for the best finish among NJCAA teams.

Although he is satisfied with the results of the race, Riggs still has his eyes set on something bigger.

“I watched a great press conference the other day. (Mike McDaniel) talked about just going out and playing good football and not worrying about the score.” Riggs said, referring to the Miami Dolphins coach. “So if I had a message for my team, yeah we have some excitement building up and that sort of thing, but let’s not focus on the outcome, lets just go be good runners and do the little things to take care of ourselves outside of practice and get excited about the training and then just be some relentless competitors.”

Larson competed in the Chili Pepper Classic Friday, September 30th in Fayetteville, Ark. and posted the fastest 5K time in Blue Dragon history, completing the race in just 18:12.1 to give her the first and third fastest times in program history.

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