California Lutheran University’s cross-country team competed in the SCIAC Championships at Prado Park in Chino, California on Saturday, Oct. 27. Despite being banged up before and during the race, several Kingsmen and Regals were able to step up and conquer some personal achievements. Although the end results may not be ideal, sophomore runner Nikita Khromets said the team gave it all that they had.
Prado Park is a notoriously difficult course with uneven terrain where one wrong step can seriously injure a runner. The course kept several athletes from finishing the race, leading to some underclassmen having to take their places in order for the team to earn a top five finish.
In the women’s race, junior Rachel Ereso was unable to complete the course because of an injury.
Junior and captain Rigoberto Baza said that his teammate, sophomore Conner Griffin, one of the school’s top runners, is currently injured, so the team was not sure who would take the top five spots in Saturday’s race.
Khromets explained how difficult this course is in particular. He said that its combination of being “hilly” and having lots of thick grass and dirt made it especially tough on the team.
Baza said the course was filled with mud and holes, making it unpredictable for the athletes that have never raced there before. This was his third year competing in the SCIAC Championships however, so he said he knew what to expect.
Baza said he was, “proud because the team is young, and every individual stepped and did their part.”
Sophomore Olivia Becker also agreed that the difficulty of the course affected the team. Becker said that the “uneven terrain” was the most difficult obstacle, because if the runners are not careful, it can lead to a rolled ankle. If that happens, the runners either have to keep running through the pain or drop out of the race.
Becker herself had quite a day, finishing first in the women’s group for the first time this year. She was able to finish 53rd overall with a time of 26:25.4, and she credits overcoming this tough course to her high school running career in Colorado.
“The terrain and conditions are pretty similar to back home, so I am used to it because that’s what I had to race in high school, and it is also where I train during the summer,” Becker said.
First-year Veronica Redpath finished close behind at 59th overall with a time of 26:40.0 and fellow first-year Caroline Slate topped off with the third best finish of 71st at 27:15.9.
Becker said, “the team has had better days,” but despite the circumstances of injury, there was no lack of effort or work put in by the team.
In the men’s race, Khromets was able to finish first out of the Kingsmen with an overall time of 27:56.2 in turn recording a 5:37 mile pace. This is the second year in a row Khromets has finished in the top three at the SCIAC Championships, 39th overall and was able to beat his personal best for the course by 20 seconds.
The cross-country team will finish their season with a trip up to Walla Walla, Washington, for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) West Regional Championships. Both Becker and Khromets explained that only six athletes total will be able to make the trip.
They also said the athletes who will participate in this event will be decided based on a combination of the statistics, dedication, effort, attendance and hard work each athlete has presented throughout the season.
The Kingsmen and Regals will take on the NCAA West Regional Championships in just two weeks. Whitman College will host the meet on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.