The Wildcats return home from the WAC conference tournament in Riverside, California with a seventh-place finish on the men’s side and a third-place finish on the women’s side behind with Irene Rono, a sophomore from Eldama Ravine, Kenya, taking first place overall.
“Irene winning was awesome, and having three in the top ten [Prudence Kiyeng and Briahna Gerlach placing eighth and ninth] is really good from our front group,” said head coach Jarvis Jelen. “We were happy with their performance. Utah Valley ran much better than both us and CBU were expecting, they had a great day.”
According to Rono, it was her motivation of not quitting that lead her to push through and finish the race on top.
“The race was tough, but I tried to tell myself mentally that I know what I am doing and to fight and not give up because it was kinda tough,” Rono said. “That is what made me to endure, to not think of quitting.”
This race resulted in Ronos’ best time in a 6k so far this season, and after the meet, Rono touched on how much winning and her coach’s support meant to her.
“I got so much support from my coach, who was everywhere in the corners of the course,” Rono said.“Winning this showed me how much potential I have, and it is like a new beginning. It has given me more confidence.”
Jelen said the men did not have a good day and were unprepared for the race they faced.
“If we would have had an average day we probably would’ve moved up one place,” said Jelen. The men who came in ranked fifth ended up placing seventh.
“The western side of the conference had a little bit of an advantage for the course, they had all seen it and the Texas schools hadn’t.” Jelen said, “It wasn’t a make or break thing but it is an advantage to prepare for that specific course.”
Jarvis said that this experience will give them a better idea of the conference in the future for indoor and again in next season’s competitions.
“Both teams have regionals coming up, for the men, it will be our last race of the season, we just want to go and put up our best performance and hopefully have our best regional performance ever, which I know we are capable of,” Jelen said. “Even though conference didn’t go as we would have wished, we trained really well all season, we have a good team and one bad day doesn’t mean we can’t go close our the season well.”
Now, both teams will head to the regional meet. For regionals, the top two teams get an automatic entry to nationals. At this time, the women are coming in ranked third, but Jelen said they still have a good shot.
“If Irene has a normal day she will qualify as an individual, but we are shooting for the team to go to Florida for nationals,” Jelen said.
ACU cross country will compete in the NCAA South Central Regionals in Waco, Texas on Nov. 12.