The Trinity men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in three races in the past two weeks. The first was the University of the Incarnate Word Invitational in Live Oak, Texas, on Oct. 12. This meet was followed by the Concordia Invitational in Pflugerville, Texas on Oct. 18 and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invitational in Winneconne, Wis. on Oct. 19.
At the University of Incarnate Word Invitational, the Trinity men’s team placed third overall for Division III teams. The victory came despite the men’s team taking out their top two runners and the women’s team only entering five runners total.
“We wanted to make sure our top runners were well rested going in to the Oshkosh Invitational the following weekend. Most of the runners who participated were happy [with their races], it was a very competitive meet. The weather was really muggy and humid so the times weren’t quite as fast as they would’ve liked,” said assistant coach Emily Daum.
The following Friday at the Concordia Invitational in Pflugerville, Texas the women’s team raced to a second place finish overall behind Texas Lutheran University. The Trinity women who raced at this event included runners outside of the top seven women’s spots.
The next day at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invitational in Winneconne, Wis., the top seven women as well as the top two men’s runners competed at this race with over 500 competitors.
“It was a massive race with about forty teams,” said junior runner Nicola Hill. “We came in to the race seeded third, but we ended up getting fourth, which we were not very happy about because we were only two points behind third place and six points behind second place. Overall we all ran really well, though, and it was a huge race, so it was definitely an eye-opener for us.”
On the women’s side, Vanessa Moreno and Maddie Murphy both placed in the top 22 female runners with significant improvements in their personal records. Representing Trinity on the men’s side was sophomore Taylor Piske and senior Gerardo Hernandez. As the top two male runners at Trinity, they carried the men’s cross country team on their backs.
“It was the biggest collegiate race I’ve ever been a part of,” Piske said. “Most of the competition were from some of the fastest schools in DIII. Lots of tripping, lots of sharp elbows. It was about as competitive a meet as it could possibly have been.”
With the SCAC Championship meet coming up next week, the men’s team feels confident in their abilities.
“SCAC Championships are going to be great this year. Taylor and I needed a confidence booster and we got it this past weekend. Our 3-7 men’s runners have had excellent workouts since pre-nats and are ready to show what they know they are capable of. When the pressure is on, we step up to the task. If we go out there and do what we should, we will be coming home with the trophy,” Hernandez said.
On the women’s side, the team is currently ranked No. 13 in the nation according to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll from Wednesday, Oct. 23.
“We have high expectations for ourselves and challenging goals for the season,” Hill said, “but as a team I think we’ve done the training and made the sacrifices to perform as expected, or even better, in the end.”
After the SCAC Championships in Shreveport, La., on Saturday, Nov. 2, the team will then compete in the South/Southeast Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Newport News, Va. Should they qualify, the team will compete a week later in the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Hanover, Ind. At the pre-nationals in Hanover earlier in the season, the women’s team took home first place, while the men finished 10th.