More than 100 spectators rushed to the final straightaway, making sure they witnessed senior Lenore Moreno finish first for La Verne at the 2012 SCIAC Cross Country Championships at Prado Park in Chino Saturday.
This is one of few great accomplishments the men’s and women’s cross country teams obtained, with the men finishing third overall and the women fourth. Along with Moreno obtaining a school record, 22:07.95, in the 6-kilometer course, she earned All-Conference with junior Andrea Arceo who finished 18th with a time of 24:24.06.
“I was really nervous going in because I know all of the other girls are always improving and I never take a race for granted,” Moreno said.
“I was also worried because it was my first time running this course and I heard that there were a lot of hills, holes and dirt.”
On the men’s side, four ULV runners received All-Conference honors, with senior Alex Forbess finishing third, 26:02.72, freshman Bryan Hayes finishing 11th, 26:38.55, junior A.J. Licon finishing 14th, 26:46.45, and senior Matthew Sustayta finishing 19th, 26:52.59.
With nine universities competing and approximately 250 participants, the competition was tough. The Leopards’ day began with a speech by athletic director Julie Kline.
“You put in a ton of time together for this moment today,” Kline said.
“When you are out there running you not only represent yourselves but you represent this team, this department and the University of La Verne.”
In the absence of head coach Michael Atwood and assistant coach Erin Cvengros, the Leopards took it upon themselves to share the leadership role.
After arriving at the park, schools began warming up and in time, the men’s 8-kilometer race was set to begin.
The course consisted of three loops that ran around a lake, soccer field, parking lot and other various obstacles.
Runners lined up at the starting line and spectators along the sides of the course with echoes of school names and mascots filling the air like battle cries.
Soon the gun was shot and the men’s race began.
The runners then became dots in the distance, only to have the spectators run to the next closest part of the course to cheer them on.
Coming out of the start loop, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Rafer Dannenhauer and Forbess were battling it out for the lead.
By the time they left the transition, Dannenhauer had the lead followed by Forbess with Pomona-Pitzer’s Alex Johnson in a close third.
Going into the last loop Forbess and Johnson were battling it out for first only to have Dannenhauer sneak up and take first leaving Johnson at second and Forbess in a close third.
“We were fighting it out in the final loop and I wanted it, but they wanted it more,” Forbess said.
Shortly after the men’s race, the women’s 6-kilometer race began.
After the gun was shot, they sprinted out and, like the men, became dots in the distance.
Coming out of the first loop Moreno was in first with Cal Lutheran’s Melissa Skiba following shortly behind only to have Moreno advance to a 20 second lead going into the transition.
Coming out of the final loop, Moreno retained first place finishing 50 seconds before CMS’s Alison Barnwell in second followed by Skiba for third shortly after.
The day ended with La Verne’s head track and field coach Pat Widolff talking to the Leopards.
“I just want to congratulate you all on how great you did, I can’t believe how much you guys have improved,” Widolff said.
La Verne’s next cross-country meet will be at the NCAA West Region championships Nov. 10 in Oregon.
Veronica Orozco can be reached at email@example.com.