Junior Jackie Newell sprints past a Colorado College competitor towards the finish line in order to place fifth, giving the Trinity women a perfect score. Photo courtesy of Patty Pagano.

Even the difficult three-lap course, with its significant hills, intermixed with patches of grass and uneven gravel, could not stop the Trinity men’s and women’s cross country teams from running to their first ever Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship last Saturday. Prior to the win, cross country was the only sport in which Trinity had never won an SCAC title.

“It was an amazing conference meet and one that we’ll always remember,” said head coach Derick Lawrence. “It has really built the foundations of what we were trying to accomplish this year, and now that’s going to be what we want to achieve every year. We’ve set the standards, and now it’s the goal of every year to do something of this standard.”

The game plan was simple for both teams — treat this race like it was a dual meet between Colorado College, and both teams executed that game plan perfectly.

“We’d never beat Colorado College before, and they’ve won conference for the past three years,” said senior Sal Perdomo. “Our goal was to go out and beat them and we went out there and accomplished our goal.”

The women’s team dominated with a perfect score, finishing in the top five spots and recording the lowest score in SCAC history. Junior Vanessa Moreno won Saturday’s race, earning her the 2012 SCAC Runner of the Year. Junior Maddie Murphy finished second for the Tigers, while sophomore Jessica Pagano finished third and junior Rosemary Steup finished fourth. Junior Jackie Newell passed runners from Colorado College and Southwestern University in the last 150 meter uphill stretch to come in fifth for the Tigers. All five runners earned All-SCAC honors, as did junior Jessie Dean, first year Mariana Sigala, sophomore Michelle Oberndorf and sophomore Nicola Hill.

“It’s definitely a mental thing, because a lot of the girls came back from last year knowing that we’d lost conference by four points, to a national qualifying team,” Moreno said. “It was one of those where we were so close, and we didn’t want to be that team again. We were hungry and fired based off last season, which pushed us through.”

Senior Francisco Escobedo led on the men’s side, finishing second overall. Graduate Robert Edmonds finished in third place for the Tigers. Perdomo led behind Edmonds, coming in sixth place, followed by senior Mark Greene, junior Gerardo Hernandez and first-year Taylor Piske. First year Chris Soto and sophomore Connor Amoruso also finished in the top 14, earning All-SCAC honors. Piske was named the 2012 SCAC Freshman of the Year.

“This is something I’ve been looking to do for the past three seasons and to go down as a team that’s making history, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Perdomo said.

Next weekend, both teams head to Atlanta to compete in the NCAA South/Southeast Regional Championships. The top two teams qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships.

“We’re trying to go to Nationals; that’s our goal, and we’re going to do everything in our power to do that,” Perdomo said.