CSU East Bay’s women’s cross country team starts their season welcoming six new runners in addition to last year’s team, which had one of the best seasons in the history of the program.
Women’s cross country has three returning athletes that head coach Ralph Jones expects to improve mightily from the 2011-2012 season.
“We have three returners from last year Amanda McNabb, Tiffany Duffy and Nastassia Hamor,” Jones said when discussing his returning runners. “I expect all three to do better and help contribute to the team’s success this year.”
Last season, the Pioneer women enjoyed success of historic proportions as they were able to win two key meets, which Jones thought were highly competitive.
“Our season last year was a success in the sense of we were able to win two meets,” Jones said, “the Sonoma Invitational and the Mills Invitational.”
Along with winning those two events, “four of our seven runners ran lifetime bests,” Jones explained. “And we were the first team to compete in a CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) championship at the school making a little bit of history.”
Looking to piggyback off of last year’s success, Jones went on the recruiting trail and explained the majority of the team this year is new to the school.
He has four first-time freshmen, Megan Osten, Imani Heath, Celina Vera and Vanessa Mares, as well as two transfer students, Robinea McClinton and Julia Wilson.
Expectations are high this season as McClinton, one of the team’s top runners, believes the team has what it takes to compete in the CCAA as well as regionals.
“Our expectations are to be top three in conference and go to regionals and make a splash,” McClinton explained. “I feel as a team we are very strong and we have a very big group of strong runners. We all are determined and want to win.”
In order to meet these expectations, Vera, who is going into the season as one of the team’s top two runners, believes the team just needs to continue to grow and bond the way they have over the last few weeks.
“I think we need to come together as a team and show off every practice like we have so far,” Vera said.
While their performance at meets is important, Jones also has different sets of goals that he would like for his team to accomplish, among those is to be a nationally ranked team academically.
“My number one goal is for my team to follow in the footsteps of our women’s basketball program and earn a national ranking academically,” Jones said when discussing team goals. “As well as be a top team academically on campus, as well as involve more alumni in our program.”
Women’s cross country has five meets and Jones said he believes the most important meet is the Mills College Meet in Oakland on September 15 because it is in many ways a home meet for the Pioneer women.
“There will be a tailgate, food and music as well as Pioneer Pete. So we encourage the Pioneer student body to come out and support and enjoy the festivities,” he said.
With a team that has so many new players, Jones has a few expectations he believes his team can adhere to by season’s end.
“I expect them to represent the school well, aspire for excellence in all they do and become the best they can be,” Jones said. “My personal goals are for our team to develop as a unit and achieve excellence in all they do.”
Jones said he is passionate to make sure this upcoming season is better than last year’s team and his runners are just as confident.
While it may be difficult to top what they did as a team last season, McClinton believes they have the runners and people capable of achieving that feat.
“It’s going to take hard work, dedication, sacrifice, integrity; it’s going to take all those things from the entire team,” McClinton said. “Not just one person or two people but all of us together.”
“We will turn heads and make East Bay cross country known,” she added confidently.
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 at 12:34 pm.