Cross Country teams trek to NCCAA Nationals
Coach Covarrubias leads SAGU to Dayton, Ohio
Campos, Hillhouse, Herrington, Garza given best chance to place
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Both the men’s and women’s Cross Country teams from Southwestern Assemblies of God University take to the road today (Thursday), en route to Dayton, Ohio.
The first year programs have each qualified for a berth in the 40th National Christian College Athletic Association’s National Championships on Saturday.
The NCCAA has over 125 members from the NAIA, and both the NCAA’s Division 2 and Division 3, all competing against each other this weekend in two divisions.
“We are excited about this week’s National Championship,” said SAGU’s overall XC Head Coach, Jason Covarrubias. His teams begin the 1,015 mile trek to the Dayton suburb of Cedarville, just 26 miles east.
The Weather Channel has issued a mild pattern in the area on race day. Temperatures are expected to rise to 59 on Saturday thanks to a breeze coming from the southwest.
A low of 39 on Friday night is in the forecast.
“It has been a great run this season,” the coach said, “starting (the sport) from scratch and having an opportunity to run both men's & women's squads in a national championship!”
“Both sides have come together on the training side of things, fighting through various, minor injuries and for many, learning a whole new system.”
“All in all,” the coach concluded, “it has been a great inaugural season!”
The Women’s 5K (3.1 miles) and the Men’s 8K (5 miles) are set to occur on the Elvin R. King* XC Course.
Maps and information on the track, which encompasses an all grass path set on rolling hills, can be found at: http://yellowjackets.cedarville.edu/sports/2008/8/6/GEN_kingxccourse.aspx
The women begin at 10:00am (EST), with the men commencing forty-five minutes later.
Coach Covarrubias believes the men have the potential to crack the Top 10, though it will require their best feat yet.
They will, however, be without their steady, number three man in Brad Beimler (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS). He will be fulfilling his monthly duties with the National Guard.
“If things go right for Jose Campos (Luling, Tx / Luling HS) and BJ Hillhouse (Brookshire, Tx / Royal HS) ,” the coach explained earlier this week, “these two freshmen could finish in the top 15 overall!”
The 5-foot-4 Campos has been the Lions best finisher in all but one race this fall.
Last weekend it was Hillhouse, at 5'10, who overtook him after a fixed pace through seven miles.
The Lady Lions have been fighting injuries all season. They could be reduced to four runners this weekend.
Covarrubias (KO-va-ROO-bee-yahs) believes that Destiny Garza (Aldine, Tx / MacArthur HS) and Kristen Herrington (Lufkin, Tx / Hudson HS) are the team’s best shot to break into the Top 15 individually.
A complete review of the team’s performances will be posted later on Sunday or Monday, once final times are released from what is expected to be a very large field.
SAGU’s Covarrubias will be conducting the NCCAA D2 National Coaches Meeting prior to the race. He will also be presenting awards at a banquet on Friday night.
Following the success he enjoyed at his previous post at Arlington Baptist College, he was named as the D2 National Chair. SAGU is a Division I member.
*Elvin King coached track and cross country at Cedarville University for 41 years before retiring following the 2009 fall season. The course, dedicated in 2006, was named in his honor.