By Peter Gibbs
It was a day full of personal bests for both Riverside City College cross country teams.
Both the men’s and women’s teams competed on Oct. 21 at the John Elders Titan Invitational at Cal State Fullerton. The women ran a 5k and the men ran an 8k.
There was a new course compared to last year. “At first there was a little concern,” women’s cross country Head Coach Damien Smith said. “But the team became comfortable after their warmup.”
The women were once again led by sophomore Elani Huntley, who finished in 37th place out of 173 runners with a personal best time of 18 minutes and 52 seconds. Her result was higher than racers from Biola University, UC Irvine and the host school Cal State Fullerton.
“This is a race I was looking forward to after last year,” Huntley said. “I’m really proud of my performance today.”
As a team, the women placed 15th out of the 17 that qualified. However, the field consisted of multiple division one schools as well as track clubs that had racers who varied in age.
“Every one of our runners ran a personal best today,” Smith said. “We try to teach our team to close the gaps and be as close to a fellow teammate as possible. We have a young team that’s doing a good job learning.”
On the other side, the men’s race had an issue with the start when multiple racers fell including sophomore tiger David Rush.
“When I fell, I thought ‘I’m going to miss this race.’ and out of anger and willpower I pulled through,” Rush said. “Coach told me I ended as the 7th man and so the rest of the season I’ll be all in.”
Rush rebounded in the race and finished 57th with a time of 26 minutes and 13 seconds.
Sophomore Gavyn Condit, the top finisher for the men, had mixed emotions with the reset of the race.
“The false start really got me mad,” Condit said. “I almost got 250 meters in and I was affected mentally.”
However, Condit ran a personal best as he finished 7th overall out of 201 runners with a time of 24 minutes and 22 seconds.
“I beat my personal record by a minute,” Condit said. “Seeing the timer at the finish line made me super happy.”
One of the competitors that Condit beat was Brint Laubach from The Master’s University. Laubach Currently has the second fastest time in the nation at the 8k distance. Condit also beat out other top runners from The Master’s University as well as highly ranked Westmont College.
As for the rest of the men, the team finished 4th place out of 16 qualified teams. That result was higher than rival Orange Coast College.
The playoffs are next up on the schedule for the Tigers.
“We have a great leader,” Smith said. “This race will give us lots of confidence and experience going into next week.”
On Oct. 28 both the men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in the Orange Empire Conference finals in Huntington Beach.