After a season full of ups and downs, ACU’s cross country concluded its fall season Saturday with the annual Naimadu Classic against Texas State and the University of Texas in San Antonio.
The Wildcats had a strong season in regards to time and placement in the meets. They also built on their depth and grew their skills as a team. But according to Head coach Jarvis Jelen, though those things were positives, they were not the main focus of the season.
“The thing we were working on most this season was the continued progression of positive, healthy team culture,” said Jelen. “We are in a really good place with the men’s and women’s as far as that goes, and they have built strong team relationships. They also have had a really good attitude through all the changes and challenges of COVID-19.”
As for the final race of the season, the Wildcats performed well. They won the men’s division, while junior runner Kevin Kipkosgei finished the 8K with a time of 25:25.90. Sophomore Maxwel Kiplagat finished third with a time of 25:39.55.
As for the women’s team, ACU dominated the 6K competition and filled the top three positions. In first place was sophomore runner Irene Rono, who finished her first race of the season with a time of 21:38.54. Following after Rono was senior Briahna Gerlach with a time of 21:59.54, and in third place was sophomore Grace White with a time of 22:21.63.
Though one of her main goals was to improve her times, Gerlach was able to build something else in her senior season– friendships.
“In general, our team has been able to grow closer, and we built really good relationships,” said Gerlach. “It was cool to have my teammates also be my friends. We can hang out together as a team after practice, go on unofficial long runs together, and really enjoy being around each other. Reflecting back, that was really important, to have unity, especially in a time like this.”
Though there is a chance for the teams to participate in more races in the spring, many things are still uncertain due to the pandemic and the unknown decisions from the NCAA and the Southland Conference. Despite the uncertainty, Jelen wants the team to focus on things the team can control.
“We do not know what is going to happen with races,” said Jelen, “and we do not know what is going to happen with anything in the future. One thing we can control is our response to it, our team dynamics, and our relationships. That was our primary goal this year, was to continue to grow in the areas we can control and not base our feelings about the team on results, but more on where we are as people and as a group.”