Cross Country excels in Arkansas


(left to right) Jordan Juran (JR), Brianna Ratliff (SR) Photo credit: Matthew Claybrook

Photo by Matthew Claybrook

In last week’s Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 17 runners on the Trinity University cross country teams broke personal records (PRs). The women’s team finished in fifth place overall, while the men’s team finished in 12th. Both teams finished in first place among the competition’s Division III schools.

Head coach Emily Daum explained that both training and the weather contributed to the team’s impressive performance.

“The team did a great job in preparation for the meet, which was in cooler temperatures compared to what they’ve raced in previously this season. This helped with faster times, especially for our first-year men who had only run one 8K previous to this meet,” Daum said. “For our upperclassmen that finished with PRs, it’s a testament to the work they’ve put in over the last year. Distance running is all about consistency in training, and I’m happy we’re starting to see that pay off at this point in the season.”

Trinity’s head strength and conditioning coach, Daniel Martinez, has also been working with the cross country teams.

“Training for cross country teams is a delicate balance between general and specific. While Coach Daum and [assistant coach Lauren] Loeffler do a tremendous job, it is easy for anyone to imagine that distance running can be very monotonous,” Martinez said. “As such, while the training for performance enhancement occurs within a pretty specific window where we work to make them strong in running-specific postures. We also have to carefully balance exposures to more general movements to reduce the stress that those running postures have on the body as a whole.”

For first-year runner Paige Tangney, who set a PR in the 5K at the Chile Pepper Festival, it’s been a challenge to adjust to collegiate academics and athletics.

“I knew it was going to be a big time commitment, but I didn’t realize how crucial sleep and promptness towards completing schoolwork would become,” Tangney said. “Then there comes all the little things, like making sure you’re eating and hydrating enough, getting enough sleep, stretching and rolling and going to the trainer when things start to hurt. It’s definitely been an adjustment that I’m still learning to handle.”

Despite this, Tangney is still grateful for the opportunity to be on Trinity’s cross country team.

“I chose Trinity because I knew I wanted to run on the Division III level, and it had a lot of the elements I was looking for in a school, which included a small undergrad population, location near a city, a good marketing program and warmer weather,” Tangney said. “Everyone is pretty close and looks out for each other, which I think is pretty great when having hardships like balancing academics and dealing with stress.”

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the team is scheduled to race in both College Station and Abilene

“We will be taking a partial squad to the highly competitive [Texas] A&M [University] Invite, the most competitive cross country meet in the state of Texas. We are the only non-Division I school competing in the field, so we will only be taking some of our top runners to that meet,” Daum said. “The rest of the team will be competing at the Bill Libby Invite, hosted on Abilene Christian’s cross country course. They will see a good amount of DIII competitors. For the Abilene group, I’m looking forward to finding out how the team does with a new crop of scorers for Trinity.”

Following this, they will compete at the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships on Nov. 2 in Colorado, where they will gain the chance to close their season at the NCAA Regional or National meet.

“The SCAC Championships will be hosted by Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, for the first-time ever in conference history. The race will be over 6,000 foot altitude, which very few of our runners have experienced before. We’re doing our best to prepare for the meet without being able to consistently train at altitude. Our goal is to race as smart as possible, and leave it all out there the second half of the race,” Daum said.