Even the difficult three-lap course, with its significant hills, intermixed with patches of grass and uneven gravel, could not stop the Trinity menâ€™s and womenâ€™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.
â€œIt was an amazing conference meet and one that weâ€™ll always remember,â€ said head coach Derick Lawrence. â€œIt has really built the foundations of what we were trying to accomplish this year, and now thatâ€™s going to be what we want to achieve every year. Weâ€™ve set the standards, and now itâ€™s the goal of every year to do something of this standard.â€
The game plan was simple for both teams â€” treat this race like it was a dual meet between Colorado College, and both teams executed that game plan perfectly.
â€œWeâ€™d never beat Colorado College before, and theyâ€™ve won conference for the past three years,â€ said senior Sal Perdomo. â€œOur goal was to go out and beat them and we went out there and accomplished our goal.â€
The womenâ€™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 Saturdayâ€™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.
â€œItâ€™s definitely a mental thing, because a lot of the girls came back from last year knowing that weâ€™d lost conference by four points, to a national qualifying team,â€ Moreno said. â€œIt was one of those where we were so close, and we didnâ€™t want to be that team again. We were hungry and fired based off last season, which pushed us through.â€
Senior Francisco Escobedo led on the menâ€™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.
â€œThis is something Iâ€™ve been looking to do for the past three seasons and to go down as a team thatâ€™s making history, I couldnâ€™t ask for anything better,â€ 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.
â€œWeâ€™re trying to go to Nationals; thatâ€™s our goal, and weâ€™re going to do everything in our power to do that,â€ Perdomo said.