The Trinity cross country team swept several top titles this weekend at the Hanover Pre-Nationals Invitational in Hanover, Ind., and the Alamo City Duals at Olmos Basin Park here in San Antonio.
The women finished in first place at Pre-Nationals for the first time in school history. The Tigers who are ranked No. 9 in the nation, scored 44 points in the meet, leading a field of 18 teams. Six of the Tiger women’s runners placed in the top 35 of the 6K race, which had 228 entrants.
“Last year at this meet we placed fifth and it was a turning point for the women’s season. This year we placed first and it really showed how our team has improved, that our workouts have been high quality and that we have put in good training,” said senior Vanessa Moreno. “We raced against some great DIII schools and we were honored to come out on top.”
Placing for the Tigers were senior Maddie Murphy, leading with a fourth-place finish. Murphy ran the course in 22:24.39. Moreno came in seventh, clocking in at 22:45.23. Senior Rosemary Steup posted a 10th-place finish, with a time of 22:52.43, while junior Nicola Hill was 14th at 23:03.40. Junior Michelle Oberndorf crossed the finish line in 18th place, at 23:15.20, and senior Jackie Newell was 35th, with a time of 23:46.26. Junior Jessica Pagano completed the race in 65th place, at 24:35.11.
The men scored 313 points to earn the top 10 finish among 19 total teams. The top finishers include sophomore Taylor Piske, who completed the 8K event in 31st place (out of 233 runners), posting a time of 26:56.54. Senior distance runner Gerardo Hernandez held the 49th place slot, at 27:23.45. Sophomore Phillip Flagg was 84th (27:57.23), and first year Tristan Ashton placed 85th (27:58.15).
“This was the first race our teams competed against national competition at. The results are great for team morale and also good for us to get used to traveling,” Newell said. “We are excited to take on more national competition in the next couple of weeks.”
At home, the remainder of the runners excelled as well. The men and women both placed third overall, but the men finished as the top Division III team and the women were second among Division III.
“This was our first 6K as a team, as well as my first one personally, so we all took this race more seriously than our past ones, since this is the official race distance,” Belew said.
For the women, junior Autumn Kervella completed the women’s race in 24 minutes and 39.59 seconds for a fifth-place overall finish among 52 runners. Kervella placed second among Division III competitors. Sophomore Mariana Sigala (25:06.50) placed 12th, and senior distance runner Jessie Dean (25:54.26) was 16th. Sophomore distance runner Ingrid Harb (26:36.08) held the No. 24 slot, and first year Natalie Belew (26:36.69) was 25th.
In the men’s event, first year Zach Zimdars (29:24.30) placed 13th in the field of 47 runners, and second in the DIII category. First year Ryan Hernandez (29:53.84) finished 16th in the race, while first year Clay Orona (30:19.57) came in 20th place. Sophomore Brandon Wilson (30:51.25) came in at number 25, while senior distance runner Carlos Anchondo (30:51.42) was .17 seconds behind his teammate.
“As far as our home meet, I would say I am quite proud of how the team performed. For a lot of them, it was the first time running an 8K, on the men’s side, and a 6K on the women’s side, and they didn’t let the longer distance affect their performance. They kept pushing and competed well throughout the race,” said assistant cross country coach Emily Daum.
Junior distance runner and team captain Brandon Douglas was also named the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Character & Community Athlete of the Week. Douglas, who is a three-year letterman for the Tiger cross country and track & field teams, helped lead the cross country team to its first ever SCAC Championship in 2012. This past spring, he also ran his personal best time in the 10,000-meter run to aid the Tiger track & field team to the conference title.
Since coming to Trinity, Douglas has spent many hours as a tutor and volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, assisting with their after-school activities program. He has also helped the Church Under the Bridge in San Antonio, serving dinners and distributing clothing to homeless and needy families. Douglas has served as a resident mentor at Trinity for the past two years, and has also participated in Trinity’s Leadership Academy. Service to his community is a passion of Douglas, who also logged over 200 hours as a volunteer at the Medical Center of Plano, Texas, while in high school, and was a member of the Young Men’s Service League.
Trinity’s men are set for the Oct. 12 University of the Incarnate Word Invitational in Live Oak, Texas. The Tiger women hit the road Oct. 19 for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh meet at Winneconne, Wis. Hanover will host the NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships on Nov. 23.