Cross country has found its home at Redlands Community College.
The athletic program is in its first year at Redlands and team members competed in their first meet on Aug. 30. Redlands is in Region 2 of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), along with Carl Albert State College, Connors State College, and two Arkansas schools.
Coach Natalie Cox says that this program allows more opportunity for individuals in the Midwest to compete as student athletes at the collegiate level. Cox’s goal is to put Redlands on the map as a go-to school for running. Students are able to attend a school close to home with less expenses and still participate in a sport they love.
“The cross country program is a huge win for Redlands and our students. Our hope is to develop relationships with four-year institutions and work with them to develop students’ athletic and academic skills before they transfer to a larger school,” Cox said.
Make no mistake – cross country is an athletic sport and students train hard.
“We train six to seven days a week, sometimes twice a day,” Cox said. Because cross country is run on an outdoor course with varying terrain, the team practices at different locations around the community to simulate different race scenarios. “Cross country is an endurance sport, so women typically run about 40 miles per week and men up to 60 miles per week,” Cox said. During their training sessions, the athletes also work on flexibility, running form, and strength, plus maximizing their energy systems through interval training, tempo runs, and speed work.
Thirteen students were part of the initial recruiting class, which is quite impressive for the first year.
“I’m really proud of this year’s group. They all have really bonded with each other, work hard and pour their hearts into it. They have the heart of a Cougar!” Cox said.
Results of the first competition included the women’s team finishing in first place with DiDi Jaramillo winning first in the women’s division. Jaramillo set a 5K course record with a 19:28 finishing time. Kyra Bentley finished second, also under the 20-minute mark, with a time of 19:55. On the men’s side, the 8K race was a new competition distance for most members of the team, and they won second place honors with Jace Getz leading with a seventh-place finish.
The team will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in November for the national competition. For more information about the program, schedule and the team’s results, visit www.redlandscc.edu/athletics/cross-country.