by Max Zänker
With an 11th place finish at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regional Cross Country Meet in McIver Park in Estacada, Ore., the University of La Verne men’s cross country ended its season Saturday.
The women’s team did not have enough runners to qualify for a team placement.
“As a team, this was our best performance of the year,” said junior Cecilio Barrera, who finished the regional 24th with a time of 26:41. “We beat Occidental, which is one of the strongest teams in our conference.”
Barrera was less satisfied with his individual performance.
“I ran well, but I would only be satisfied if I had made it to the nationals,” he said.
Head coach Pat Widolff was not completely pleased with the men’s season outcome in the regionals.
“I thought we could be eighth or ninth,” he said. “The team could have done better, but the runners were good as individuals.”
For senior Frank Huerta, the end of the season also meant the end of his time on the team. “I’m definitely going to miss it,” Huerta said. “I love cross country with the small group and its team atmosphere.”
The men’s team lost two runners to injuries with a collapsed lung and knee problems over the season, and two other athletes quit.
“I know that it’s hard waking up every morning to run 10 miles at 6:30 a.m.,” Huerta said. “Some people can’t handle that. But the guys that stayed with the team did pretty good for what we had.”
Huerta names his ambition for improvement as his personal motivation for getting up that early every day.
Eight of the 15 runners this year were freshmen.
“I’m a very satisfied with our freshmen’s performance all over the season,” Widolff said. “Time will show how they grow into the team.”
With Huerta leaving, it will be Barrera’s role in the next season to form a team out of the young runners.
“I will have to step up and take over the leadership,” Barrera said. “I feel ready for it.
“We will come back next season and hopefully find our place within the top five teams of our conference.”
Barrera names the nationals as his individual goal for the next season.
“I know that I can improve,” he said. “The last season reflected my training. I did not train hard enough, I had too much other stuff going on.”
Widolff does not want to give an outlook of the upcoming season yet.
“The guys and girls will run a lot in the summer,” he said. “That will show how far we can improve and where we can go next season.”
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.