By Peter Gibbs
Even with poor terrain and delays in starting on time, goals were set and accomplished.
Both the Riverside City College men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Manny Bautista Invitational at NTC Park in San Diego Oct. 7.
With a large field of 18 teams competing, the men’s team had high expectations.
“The team has done a great job learning this season and getting better each day,” men’s head coach Jim McCarron said. “It was the deepest community college field so we set a goal of placing fifth as a team and we met that goal.”
After an airplane departed from the nearby San Diego Airport and caused a delay, it seemed that RCC would lose focus.
However, the Tigers were led by top runner Gavyn Condit, who placed fifth overall with a time of 20 minutes and 27 seconds.
“I wasn’t really affected because coach tells us to be prepared for anything,” Condit said. “I’ve learned to push through and keep going whether I have to reset or if I fall down at the start.”
Condit was joined by Kyle Reden and Ernesto Ruiz, who was competing in his first collegiate race.
Reden was able to move up through the field towards the last mile of the race to help push the team toward its goal.
“I wanted to start off a bit slower and save my energy for the rest of the race,” Reden said. “My last few races I’ve been able to use the last of my strength and catch those in front of me.”
The women’s team placed eighth as early morning dew caused parts of the course to be muddy.
“I stumbled at the beginning of the race and it caused me to go out a bit faster,” sophomore runner Elani Huntley said. “There were times when I had to look down and make sure the terrain wasn’t muddy, which threw off my rhythm.”
Huntley was the teams top finisher, finishing in sixteenth place with a time of 20 minutes and six seconds.
Due to the conditions, the team chose to wear training shoes with better tread instead of the lighter race flats.
“Maybe I could have worn my flats,” Huntley said. “But they don’t really have much traction on them.”
The top three finishers for the women’s team were Huntley, Dakota Zamarripa and Lidia Barrios.
“This next race is what will catapult us into the playoffs,” McCarron said. “We have a really good chance of finishing on the podium at state.”
Both the men and women will be back in action for RCC on Oct. 21 in the John Elders Titan Invitational held at Cal State Fullerton.