East Bay Cross Country on The Move

Photo / Courtesy CSUEB

Amanda Zepeda

Go the distance.

These simple words can motivate even the most elite runners to battle through pain and fatigue to finish their race. Cal Sate East Bay sophomores Megan McDaniel and Erik Rodriguez have certainly gone the distance to ensure a successful year thus far for the Pioneer Cross Country team.

Pioneer runner McDaniel led the women’s cross-country team into a third place finish at the Bronco Invitational in Santa Clara on Sunday, October 17. She was number 20 to cross the finish line out of 190 runners, and finished with a time of 19:06 seconds over a 3.2 mile course.

For McDaniel, being the front-runner for the women’s cross country team carries significant importance. This is mostly because of a foot injury she suffered last year, causing her to be sidelined for the majority of the 2009 season.

“I was anxious to get back into action this year.” said McDaniel, “Not being able to run last year was a major setback for me.”

Without question it is evident that McDaniel is healthy and back to full . She has been the top finisher in every race for the women’s Cross Country team this season. When asked about her current health, McDaniel simply smiled and said, “The injury is behind me. I feel great.”

For the men’s cross country unit, it is sophomore Rodriguez leading the way for CSUEB. Rodriguez led the Pioneers to a sixth place finish in Santa Clara, placing 36th out of 128 runners, with an impressive time of 26:54 seconds on an eight thousand meter course.

Rodriguez began training for the season early in the summer with a couple of his teammates, thus his example has influenced the team to progress overall.

“We’re a lot more successful this year than we were last year,” said Rodriguez, “On average, the team is running a lot faster and better. The training has definitely paid off.”

And paid off it has. Similar to McDaniel, Rodriguez has been the front-runner every week for the men’s team. Cross Country coach Greg Ryan commented on Rodriguez’s success and emphasized his clutch performance.

“He has stepped it up a whole notch this year,” coach Ryan said, “Without a doubt, he is the most improved on the team.”
The coaching staff values these two as much as they do the rest of the team. However, it is their leadership and stellar performance that distinguishes them as feature runners on the team.

“Megan always works real hard and she’s a great competitor. Erik has made a big breakthrough this year and his talent has truly blossomed,” said coach Ryan.

“We’ve stepped up our game compared to last year. We’ve improved compared to all the other teams in the CCAA Conference. We’ve been solid so far.” said coach Ryan said.

With McDaniel and Rodriguez continuing to lead the way, the Pioneers will end a successful season with even higher hopes for next year. The Men and Women’s Cross-Country team close out the year at Pomona for the CCAA championships on November 6.