At the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship meet, the Trinity University Men’s cross country team accomplished something that has only happened once before in SCAC championship history. They won the championship with a perfect score of 15.
With only the top five runners scores for each team counting and the lowest total of points being the winner, the men’s team earned their first perfect score in championship history.
As this is only the second time in conference history that a team had earned a perfect score in the championship, it is evident that the team is a very talented and has an incredible amount of depth. Sophomore Michael Erickson is one member of the team who knew that this team had the potential to be special.
“By the time the team ran the Chili Pepper 8k in Arkansas, I think we knew we were favored for SCAC,” Erickson said. “I personally did not realize how favored we were until after Pre-Nationals when Coach Daum told us our top five runners were ranked first through fifth in the conference.”
Erickson stated that when the team was informed of their runners’ ranking in the SCAC conference, they felt even more motivated to be a part of Trinity history.
Travelling to the race turned into an eventful situation, but the team did not let the uncontrollable situation affect their focus.
“[We] were on a bus for 16 hours trying to get to Sherman the night before the race,” said senior captain Taylor Piske. “We were afraid the hard day of travel might take a serious toll.”
It was not until the Tigers were able to firmly separate themselves from the opposition that they felt comfortable with the events that had transpired during their trip to Sherman.
“When the Colorado College contenders finally fell off of our pack, I think it was relief,” Piske said. “Happiness that we all felt in knowing that rotten luck was not going to ruin our chance at taking SCAC.”
Head coach Emily Daum is especially proud of the men’s team for their performance in the SCAC championships and for making school and SCAC history. Daum credits the work that the men did during the offseason as the reason for their impressive dominance in the championship meet.
“It was a proud moment to see the men work as a strong pack early on,” Daum said. “[Also], when our fifth runner passed the last non-Trinity runner to solidify our 1 through 5 sweep.”
What is different about this year’s team is the success that they are finding running in a pack, especially when they are in the lead. Because the team has found success in running together when in the lead, they have learned to trust one another to set a good pace.
“We’ve really become a unit in the past couple of weeks,” Piske said. “Runners one through five are running together, running as a pack. That hasn’t happened in a long time and it’s exciting.”
Daum noticed the success the men were having while running together, so she had the top five runners stay together for the first half of the SCAC championship race.
“It definitely made us as a whole stronger, said Erickson. “So learning to trust the team is the biggest preparation we’ve had for regionals.”
Daum was well aware of the talent of the team, but she knew that there would be obstacles in their ascension to the top.
“If the men were going to make history, a lot of things had to right and according to plan, mainly putting the team ahead of themselves,” Daum said. “They did just that and now they’ve earned the team recognition of having the most all-SCAC runners from one school.”
With nine All-SCAC runners along with Piske, who was named the SCAC male runner of the year, this Tiger team is full of confidence. Piske is well-aware of what awaits the team as the they prepare for their regional meet.
“We need to keep up the good vibes and focus,” Piske said. “Perfect scoring SCAC was incredible, but we don’t have the time to celebrate. The true test of our mettle is in Virginia.”