Knights cross-country teams compete in the Cal State San Marcos Cougar Challenge


City College freshman Teresita Guzman running in the Cal State San Marcos Cougar Challenge on Oct. 18. Guzman finished 88th overall and was the first Knight to cross the finish line with a time of 22:33. Photo credit: Torrey Spoerer

Amber Henry

The San Diego City College cross-country teams put themselves to the test at the Cal State San Marcos Cougar Challenge event, where community colleges were pitted against four-year universities on Oct. 18 and although both teams did not place in the cross-country field event, there were several personal success stories.

“I improved my time by one minute,” said freshman Teresita Guzman who finished first for the City College women’s team with a time of 22:33.

“My goal was to improve from the last race and to follow the advice from my coach. I’m really proud of my teammates. I know everyone really improved,” Guzman said.

Freshman Stephanie Ramirez came in second for the Knights with a time of 23:12 and freshman Diana Vergara was third with a time of 23:30.

“I like it a lot,” Ramirez said. “Today, at the end – my breathing started to get out of control, but I pushed through. The course was beautiful and I passed PR.”

PR, or personal rate, is the runner’s average time per lap.

“Everyone beat their times, a lot of the teammates were picking each other up and finding that inner strength,” said freshman Kelsey Engler who crossed the finish line with a time of 24:46.

Running along side Engler for the entire course was freshman Heather Houdlin, who is recovering from a knee injury finished with a time of 24:28.

Assistant Coach Karen O’Lone said that each runner has a target time per lap, known as a “split time” and the runner has to “pick it up or slow it down” to be consistent between each lap. “When they have a similar split time, we encourage them to run together. This is an individual sport, but there is a team aspect,” O’Lone said.

The men’s cross-country team was faced with a new challenge in this race. Instead of racing their normal 4 miles in cross-country meets, the course was 5 miles or labeled as an 8K and the whole team seemed to agree that the pace was faster and more competitive.

Freshman Antonio Cota was the fastest runner for the City College team, crossing the finish line with a time of 29:05.

“It hurt,” Cota said. “Mentally it was hurting me, ’cause I’m used to running shorter distances. Until I pushed through it, then I got my groove on and just kept going.”

“It was fast,” said freshman Sawiros Haile.

Haile finished second for the team at 30:25. He said his per mile pace dropped from an average of 5:45 to 5:14 for the first lap in the race. Haile said they prepared for the race by training longer intervals, “When we run long runs, it helps build your stamina.”

Freshman Julio Segura clocked in at a time of 31:20, freshman Migues Reyes finished with a time of 32:33 and freshman Felix Pozo crossed the finish line with a time of 33:37.

Head Coach Paul Greer acknowledged his team for meeting the extra challenges this race held – both in terms of length and pace. “We used interval training in practice to prepare for the longer course. We had great focus and ran as a team.”

Greer stated that he expects Cota “to go all the way to Fresno” for the State Championship race.