By: Grace Long, Staff Writer
Personal bests and school records are falling at an impressive pace as this year’s team of Newman Cross Country runners continue the success started by previous teams.
Cross Country Coach Josh Schepis said he’s been impressed with his athletes so far, especially on the men’s team.
“This year's men’s team has a chance to be one of the top three teams we’ve ever had,” said Schepis, coach at Newman for 23 years.
Both the men’s and women’s teams got off to a historic start on Saturday at the Thrasher Invitational hosted by Bethel College, where the men’s team won first and the women placed second
Women’s cross country senior Patricia Limo won first overall at the meet, marking the first time a member of the Newman women’s cross country team won first at a race. She finished the 5K race with a time of 18 minutes, 36 seconds. Sophomores Lucy Brown and Nayelly Rosales finished in the top five, with Rosales and fellow sophomore Anna Corbett both running personal bests in the 5K.
On the men’s side, junior Asher Brown (school record holder in the 10K) and senior Kevin Chemalmal finished in the top five, and freshman Jake Beauchamp and senior Austin Fullerton finished in the top 10 at the 8K race.
Junior Reagan Longei highlighted the men’s performance by breaking his own 8K school record from the previous meet with a time of 25 minutes, 4 seconds. It was the third consecutive race where Longei broke a school record.
Longei, who describes himself as a hardworking, disciplined, respectful, and team-orientated runner. is a transfer from Trinidad State College in Colorado, where he earned four All-American Honors and two All-Region Honors. He placed seventh at Nationals while at Trinidad and took one week off before going back to training, focusing on mileage. Longei said he chose to come to Newman because he wanted to pursue nursing and heard that Newman had the best program in the region.
So far, Longei said, he has enjoyed the diversity of athletes on the team, and he also likes the coaches.
“I think the coaching staff is always there for us and they are very understanding,” Longei said, adding that breaking three records in a row makes him feel like “the practice, patience, and pain during practices and races pays off.”
He also said he’s learned to deal with the pain by thinking of it as a positive.
“The more pain, the more you get better,” he said.
While breaking these records has been a great experience, Longei said, he is not satisfied.
“I feel I need to keep pushing as I haven’t met my target yet,” he said. “My target this year is running under 25 minutes.”
Schepis stressed that the team will continue one simple, basic strategy as it prepares for an Oct. 7 meet in Dallas: “Working hard together.”
And working hard is what makes this team successful, Schepis said. The men run anywhere from 55 to 65 miles per week, and the women log 35 to 45 miles.
“You really have to love it because we’re doing a lot of it,” he said.
Schepis also said that he wants his team to learn that cross country is hard work, but it’s work that pays off.
“Our goal is to improve and get faster each meet and prove the hypothesis that perseverance always succeeds,” he said.
PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics