Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Women’s cross country: Conference USA Champions

Sports(crosscountry)-rick yeatts cusa

If a loss builds character then a win reveals it. On Saturday, Nov. 2, the UTSA Roadrunners women’s cross country team showed great determination in capturing the 2013 Conference USA (C-USA) championship.

After being on the losing end of consecutive conference championships in 2011 and 2012, the Roadrunners ended their streak of defeats, striding into a first place tie with the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes as each team garnered 67 total points in the cross country standings.

In what was a close and nerve-racking 5,000 meter run, the Roadrunners were led by senior Nina Herrera, who finished in fourth place with a time of 17:24.04 at the Eagle Point Cross Country Course in Denton, Texas.

“It’s really fulfilling to set a big goal like that and then to see it come to fruition at the end,” UTSA Cross Country Head Coach Scott Slade said. “To see the way the girls worked and bought into everything that we did, and they weren’t deterred that we moved into a big conference. They decided we’re going to try and do this. We’re going to go and win a conference championship. It just feels awesome.”

The victory for UTSA was not without its dramatic moments. The Roadrunners were trailing big in the final 400 meters.

That’s when sophomore Emily Perez (eighth/17:40.90) and junior Stephanie Wangui (20th/17:58.02) made strong moves, both passing the Tulsa runners in front of them just before the finish line. Their finishes, in addition to seniors Samantha Fish (17th/17:52.21) and Alyssa Diaz (18th/17:55.26), clinched the co-championship for UTSA.

“We were losing with 400 meters to go in that race, and the girls didn’t give up. They fought and were passing girls right up to the line — sprinting to the line and running with heart — because they wanted it so badly,” Slade said. “It’s like being 10 points down in a basketball game with two minutes to go and then winning on a buzzer shot.”

For many of the seniors it was a fitting end to their four years of work and dedication.

“We had all experienced the heartbreak every single time, so before the race we had decided ‘this was it, we either do or don’t,’” Herrera said. “To finally hear the results and know that we finally accomplished the goal that we had been aiming for, it was just relief. We finally got it.”

Following the race there was some dispute as to what the final standings were between UTSA and Tulsa, which proved to be more tense than the actual event.

“It was actually really stressful afterwards. Because usually you finish running and you’re done and you’re like ‘okay, well, that was it.’ But we finished the competition and we knew it was going to be really close from the beginning,” Herrera recalled. “It was funny because one of the parents was there and he was trying to calculate the points to the finish and he had initially thought we had lost by four points. We heard him say “oh no, that’s horrible; we don’t want to have lost again.’”

After nearly a 45-minute wait, it was announced that Tulsa and UTSA had in fact tied and received the co-champion status.

“They announced it and they were like ‘coach, did we really win? Is it true?’ They were all looking at me and I said ‘yeah, we won,’” Slade said. “All of a sudden they were like, ‘oh my god.’ At first it was just like, is this really happening, kind of like a pinch-me moment.”

UTSA will compete in the NCAA South Central Regional on Friday, Nov. 15, for their final event of the fall season.

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