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 have returned, but, similar to last season, most of the team is inexperienced.
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, 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.”
In the first two races of the year, the Yuba College team took only three runners to competition. The Lassen Invitational race on September 12 included Lassen, Butte, and Shasta colleges and was held at Susanville. Because of the long drive, a couple of runners had to miss the competition.
At the Shasta Invitational on September 20, all three runners improved upon their times from the last race. Rydman ran a new personal best, finishing the four-mile race in 23 minutes: 33 seconds and taking a close second place in the men’s race. Rudy Cornado took 15th in the men’s race with a time of 29:22. In the women’s race, Rochelle Capps came in 10th with a time of 35:22, also setting a personal best.
Consistently improving on their times has helped the runners to keep a positive attitude this season, but competition will still be a serious challenge for the team because of the shortage of runners.
At the time of this printing, the team is gearing up for the Sierra Invite in Rocklin on Saturday, September 27. To prepare for the hilly terrain at the race, Coach Browning says the team may do some practicing at the river bottoms.