After waking up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to perform a shake-out run, the UWA men’s and women’s cross-country teams recognized one thing: the first race of the year was going to be a hot and humid one. By the time the girls’ team assembled on the starting line of Jacksonville State University’s course, humidity levels reached up to 90%, creating conditions that were difficult to run in. Despite such conditions, both teams had a promising start to their seasons.
Freshman Mckenzie Scroggin was leading the Tigers about halfway through the 4k race when she injured her foot while running over some uneven terrain. Despite having later found out that she fractured a bone in her foot, she stayed in the competition but was clearly in pain for the remainder of the race. Senior Cayla Nousain took up the reins of top Tiger by mile two of the race and finished 12th with a time of 15:48. Not far behind was Shechinah Adams leading a closely knit pack of four lady Tigers, all completing the race within a minute of each other. All of the lady Tigers were excited to have conquered the foothills of Oxford but the rough conditions left them eager for their next race.
Not thirty minutes after the girls’ race started, the gun went off for the men’s race, but the change in temperature was noticeable to all competitors on the field. This fact failed to hinder the men’s team, as evidenced by the unbreakable pack of Tigers surging the front at the pull of the starting gun’s trigger. Warren Enriquez and Armanda Fierro were exchanging the lead position for the first half of the race, but finished within a stride of each other at the ranks of 2nd and 3rd with times of 17:14 (Enriquez) and 17:15 (Fierro). Freshman Rafael Duenes had a remarkable performance, as well as William Kazery, landing spots in the top 10 with times of 17:41 (Duenes) and 17:45 (Kazery). Following close behind, and all within 40 seconds of one another, the remainder of the men’s completed the race through the unbearable heat and achieving victory in their first competition of the year. Victory was achieved due to such a compact pack, but this left the men hungry for greater glory in next week’s endeavors.
Next Saturday, the UWA cross country team will be heading to the University of West Florida’s home course to challenge the Argonauts in their women’s 5k and men’s 8k invitational. With the West Florida’s team ranked higher in the conference than both teams, this race will be a determination of how both teams size up to some of their greatest competition to be confronted this year.