Following their successes last year, the cross-country team may be competing at a more modest level this season. Five runners from the team that qualified for the State Championships last season will return, but, similar to last season, most runners on the team have never run cross-country before.
In an interview with The Prospector, head coach Rick Browning said about half the runners on the team have never run cross-country before. “So to step into a junior college setting and be asked to compete at a junior college level is actually kind of hard,” he said, “but last year we had about seven to nine that were in their first year of cross-country and we went to State Championships.”
From last year’s qualifying team, five runners remain: Jake Rydman, Brad Thomas, and Marcos Bonilla for the men’s team; Neidy Mendoza and Carol Kent for the women’s. However, Kent plans not to run in competition this season and Matt Ames, another men’s runner, will is out with a knee injury.
“When you have a sport like cross-country you can have the group of people that might come out just to get in shape,” Browning said. “I think this season we have a few more of those kinds of people.”
At the annual John Orognen memorial run last Saturday, the cross-country team honored Yuba College’s first cross-country coach and hoped to recruit potential 49ers from local high schools for next season.
“It’s a chance for them to see me put on a race, see some of the athletes that are already Yuba College runners, and see what level we run at,” Browning said.
The participants also got a chance to “see the maturity level they operate on helping me to put on the run,” Browning said. Coach Browning organized the event and his team helped by handling registration, marking the course, and directing or encouraging runners during the event.
“It’s also a chance for me to watch them first-hand from start to finish to see what kind of talent there is out there,” Browning added. Yuba City and Marysville high schools both sent their teams to the event.
Yuba College cross-country competition begins Saturday when the team goes to Sacramento for the River City Invite.