Lady Lions foursome competes well at Nationals
Garza, Herrington are top finishers for Team Purple
CEDARVILLE, Ohio -- The initial season by the Cross Country program at Southwestern Assemblies of God University came to an exciting close on Saturday just east of Dayton, Ohio.
Both the men’s and women’s teams qualified for a berth in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s 40th National Championship. The SAGU teams had an impressive inaugural campaign.
There were 44 teams in the two men’s divisions, where SAGU finished 24th. There were 33 teams in Division I with the Lions.
The women’s squad was reduced to four members, primarily due to injuries. To earn points, teams must have five runners.
Cedarville University (NCAA Division II) hosted the event at their Elvin R. King XC Course.
“The course was very slow this year and the weather was cold as well,” said Head Coach Jason Covarrubias, who leads both teams. It was 51 degrees at 10:00am, cloudy and windy with 90% humidity.
“Our men competed shorthanded (Brad Beimler was serving as an Army Reservist) and that was evident in the final standings.”
The upbeat Covarrubias (KO-vah-ROO-bee-us) spoke of the benefits of the Nationals experience.
“The experience of performing on the biggest stage was awesome! Our young squad grew up in their athletic career this weekend,” he continued. “We are looking to capitalize off this meet next year!”
The women’s team was short-handed in their debut at nationals, which took place 26 miles east of Dayton.
They competed sans Abigail Hartman (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Chayimel Rolan (Artesia, NMex / Artesia HS). Both were hindered by late-season setbacks, according to Covarrubias.
The first from Team Purp’s quad squad to cross the finish line was freshman Destiny Garza (Aldine, Tx / MacArthur HS). Her time of 22:01.61 was 158th from a field of 227 runners.
Less than a minute later Kristen Herrington (Lufkin, Tx / Hudson HS) cruised in at 22:59.14.
The 5K (3 miles) race witnessed Emily Ball (Macdoel, Cal / Butte Valley HS), a junior, get clocked at 26:20.82.
Sophomore Julie Alvarez (Carrollton, Tx / Creekview HS) started what she finished at 27:31.64.
The champion in the women’s division was Kelsey Bruce, a junior from Dallas Baptist University (NCAA D2).
Her time (17:58.94) was less than one second ahead of junior Rachel Prutsman (17:59.15).
The latter (Prutsman) is from Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, NY), who won the team championship. Azusa Pacific University (Cal) and DBU finished second and third.
“They (the team) gained the knowledge of how it feels to run on a big stage with some of the nation’s top runners,” the coach said.
“The NCCAA National Championships will serve as a learning curve in both our training regimen and our (future) racing strategies!”
Standing by his belief that "no race is a bad race," Covarrubias, a glass half-full kind of motivator, continued.
“We can always take (learn) something with us every time the starter pistol is fired! It was a good finish to a great inaugural season.”
“We are no longer all freshmen (as a team). We now have a solid year under our belts!”