The Trinidad State Men's and Women's cross country teams started the season with a bang Saturday morning at the Cattails Golf Course in Alamosa. Overnight rains brought a cool morning and damp course conditions for the Trojan harriers, but nothing was going to prevent them from a hot start.
The men's 8k race went off first with competition from NCAA DII schools Adams State University and Fort Lewis College; 4-year schools Dine College and Navajo Technical University, as well as the newest cross country team in NJCAA Region XI; Colorado Mountain College. The early miles were led by a contingent of Adams State athletes with Trojan's Miguel Coca, Devin Paredes and Felix Kemei stalking them. With one mile left in the 8-kilometer (5 mile) race Adams State's Isaiah Rodarte took off, pulling away to win in 24:56. Miguel Coca battled 4 Adams State runners all the way to the finish, ending up 4th place overall in 25:16. "I'm very pleased with the way Miguel competed today," praised Coach Lauren Masterson. "He battled a great field of runners, and despite miscalculating laps ended up in the top-5 of a high level race."
It wouldn't be long before Felix Kemei and Devin Paredes followed Coca through the finish line in 8th and 10th place respectively. Their times of 25:53 and 25:57 are both strong performances on the Cattails course. Micah Stanton finished 16th for the Trojans in 26:39, with Bailey Smith behind him in 19th and 27:24 to round out TSJC's scoring five runners. Joseph Enright (25th), Andy Setser (26th), Caleb Palmer (35th), Alejandro Salazar (39th), Richard Sais (40th), Jose Ildefonso (46th), and Filomeno Vargas (53rd) also contributed strong performances to the first race of the year.
The Trojan's finished second as a team, the highest finish ever for the team at this race. NCAA DII 5th ranked team Adams State took the top spot with 17 points. TSJC totaled 52 points and Fort Lewis 117 for third place. Coach Masterson was pleased with the men's finish saying, "This is our best start to a season. We had three guys under 26 minutes, something we've never done before on this course, and had a freshmen give us a high placing 4th runner in Micah Stanton. The whole team gave us a great effort and competed well."
The women's 5k started shortly after the men?s finished. The sun came out and warmed up the air for the women's race, but fast times and good competition still abounded. Much like the men's race the early miles were led by a large contingent of Adams State runners. Sheilah Cheruiyot stayed close behind through the mile before the pace picked up slightly. Eilish Flanagan of Adams State would pull away in the end to win in 18:06. Cheruiyot went back in forth with a few individual runners and Adams State runners over the course of the 5k race, showing toughness and competitiveness. She would pull away from some in the final mile and move past another in the final stretch to finish 11th overall in a time of 19:40. Despite running only her second cross country 5k ever, Ashlee Ferrari ran very well to finish 22nd in 21:45.
Coach Masterson was very proud of the ladies' performances. "Our ladies did a great job competing against a decorated field of athletes. Sheilah did a great job asserting herself toward the front of the race early on and never relented. Ashlee went out a little quick, but showed a lot of toughness to hold off a lot of good runners with more cross country experience than her."
Both teams will be back in action next Saturday, September 14th at Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs at the Colorado College Invitational.