This isn’t the first time on the national stage for either athlete. Garza is SAGU’s only National Champion after placing first in the marathon only a little more than six months ago. This will also be her second trip to the NAIA Cross Country National Championship.
Nava, like Garza, competed at the NAIA marathon as well. He has also competed nationally at the NCCAA National Championship, most recently just last weekend.
Last year, Garza nearly made the All-American cut-off. Missing the spot by one place was something that has driven the tenacious athlete. So much so, that in May, when she ran her first-ever marathon she blew away the competition. She finished in 3:03:31, seven minutes ahead of the second place runner.
Cross country coach Jason Covarrubias simply puts it best, “Her time was smoking.”
Making the transition from 26.2 miles back to a 5K (3.1 miles) has been difficult for Garza this season. According to Covarrubias, she is a true distance runner. As the season has gone by, her times have gotten faster and she is peaking at the right time, “She hasn’t broken 18 minutes all season. She ran the fastest time of the year late so she is setting herself up for the final cross country meet of her career.”
For Nava, getting invited to the National Championship was all about positioning. Covarrubias had scouted the competition and knew exactly what needed to happen to receive an at-large bid, ““We were kind of prepped on who he needed to beat going into the meet. That’s why we ran at the Mid-States Classic. He was coming in 15th overall. He beat the kid he needed to beat by four seconds right at the finish line.”
Despite the 15th ranking coming into the meet, Nava finished in 11th place. It wasn’t his best time of the season, but he ran a smart race. Smart enough to find his way onto the national stage once again.
Garza and Nava have a unique friendship. They’ve spent countless hours training together and have spent many weekend trips traveling the country for meets.
“You can tell that they are good friends,” says Covarrubias, “Whenever Destiny’s family comes into town Jerry always goes out to eat with them. They’ve done a lot together. They are the only two to make it to the NCCAA Track Championship, NAIA Track Championship and now the NAIA Cross Country Championship. There’s a bond that’s created when you go away together.”
They will both be looking to create more memories as they travel to compete in Elsah, Illinois at the North Farm Cross Country Course this weekend. The event is on Saturday, November 19, 2016. The women start at 10:30am and the men begin at 11:30am. The event will be streamed live HERE.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at www.sagu.edu or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.
Contact: Natalie Tristan, SAGU SID, firstname.lastname@example.org