The Trinity Tigers men’s and women’s cross country teams are ready to once again make their mark at the national level.
Two men’s All-Americans, Chass Armstrong and Bryant Wright graduated, but the returnees and newcomers will certainly keep the Tigers in the hunt.
Last year Caitlin Masse of Katy, Texas (Cinco Ranch), earned All-America honors - the second Tiger to achieve the honor - at the NCAA Division III Championships at Highland Hills, Ohio. Masse placed eighth at the 6k event, clocking in at 22:21.7. Her finish was the best-ever by a Tiger cross country runner, male or female, in NCAA competition. Emily Loeffler, now a member of the Trinity Athletics staff, placed 17th at the 2008 women’s championship, becoming Trinity’s first cross country All-American. Loeffler paced the Trinity women to a No. 6 national finish marking the highest finish in Trinity and SCAC history.
“ We will be young on the women's side,” said 11th-year head Coach Jenny Breuer, “ but there's a super group of newcomers to work with, who will likely rewrite the record books for an incoming first year class.”
A prelude to Regionals were the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships, at Conyers, Ga. The Tiger women placed fifth, and Masse was SCAC runner-up behind Depauws' Lauren Reich.
The Tiger women won the TLU (Texas Lutheran) Invitational in Seguin, Texas, beating out UT-Permian Basin, Texas A&M International and Concordia. Masse won the event, with a time of 22:21.6.
Trinity had shown the colors the week before at the Texas DIII Cross Country Championships, also held at Texas Lutheran. The Tiger women were just eight points behind UT-Tyler for second place. Masse finished nearly a minute ahead of her nearest competitor to win the race.
Included on the talented newcomers list is Rosemary Steup of Kingwood, Texas (Kingwood High School), who placed fourth in the state Class 5A meet. Vanessa Moreno of El Paso, Texas (Horizon); and Maddie Murphy of Friendswood, Texas (Friendswood High School); are also runners to watch in 2010.
A key returning runner on the Tiger men’s team is senior Zach Brush of Edmond, OK, who made his first All-SCAC team last year along with All-Region for the second year in a row. Along with Brush is junior Robert Edmonds of San Antonio, TX. Edmonds is the third Trinity male to ever receive an All-Region award in his first year running cross country. The other two being Tom Pillow and Chass Armstrong.
The Trinity men placed third of 24 teams at the Regional, with 110 points, just eight behind second-place Lynchburg. Trinity also finished third at the SCAC Championship two weeks prior.
This past year marked the first time in over five years that the Tiger men captured the Texas DIII Cross Country Championships with 28 points, beating Southwestern by 35 points.
The experienced sophomore runners are Pancho Escobedo of San Antonio (Health Careers); Mark Greene of San Antonio (International School of the Americas); and Sal Perdomo of Irving, Texas (Jesuit College Prep).
“ The men will be solid and have a great pack,” Coach Breuer said. “I have a feeling a few of the returners will step up and try to fill the shoes of Chass and Bryant, as they are ready to be frontrunners. Everyone trained hard during the summer. I am looking forward to taking them to NCAA's as a team, if everyone stays healthy. That is the goal.”
The Tigers open the season Sept. 1 by co-hosting the Trinity/Texas-San Antonio/Texas Lutheran meet at San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park. On Sept. 10, it’s off to College Station and the Texas A&M Invitational. Texas Lutheran will host the Texas Little State Championships in Seguin Sept. 25.
A bit closer to home, Trinity will compete in the University of the Incarnate Word Invitational Oct. 2 at Live Oak City Park, in Live Oak. The Chile Pepper Invitational, on Oct. 16 in Fayetteville, Ark., is hosted by the University of Arkansas.
Trinity will be the host team for the SCAC Championships Oct. 30. They will be held on the Texas Lutheran campus in Seguin.
“Conference should be challenging, as usual,” Coach Breuer said. “Since we are hosting, we will have the fans and the excitement to aim for the titles.”
The NCAA Regional Championships will take place Nov. 13 in Memphis, Tenn. The nationals are slated for Nov. 20 at Waverly, Iowa.
Joining Coach Breuer on the staff is first-year assistant Derick Lawrence, who held a similar position at DePauw in Greencastle. The DePauw Tigers women won the conference title the past two years, and have been ranked nationally.