Morgan Alysse Black
El Dorado is a small town, home to Butler County Community College where many students attend from all over the world. These students have dreams and usually attend Butler with the mindset of it being a steppingstone in their path.
Sports play a significant role here at Butler, while many students are athletes on a sports scholarship. One team that may be often overlooked is the Butler Cross-Country Team.
The cross-country team is preparing for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Saturday, Nov. 13, in Richmond, Virginia. Cross-Country Assistant Coach, Manuel Gonzalez, has been at Butler for two years. Gonzalez shared his thoughts on distinctions made between cross country and track, as well as the treatment of his cross-country athletes.
“Cross-country is a smaller group,” Gonzalez said. “It can get pushed to the side. In terms of athletes, I know a lot of athletes want to prove something; our cross-country team is good. Some may have a chip on their shoulder from the pressure behind the sport. We get bunched up with track a lot; it is its own sport. We’re not a big sport like football or basketball, but we still compete at a high level.”
At the NJCAA Region VI championship, Butler’s men’s and women’s teams scored well. The men scored 222 points, finishing in eighth place in the region. Freshman Victor Jumo earned the highest points for the men. He ran a 25:32.74 8K, a nearly 5-mile run. Jumo came in 12th place in the region. The women scored 206 points, finishing in seventh place in the region. Freshman Campbell Williams achieved the highest points for the women with a 32. In her race of 3.1 miles, she came in 41st place in the region out of the 86 who ran. Williams finished with a time of 22:51.65.
There is a lot of preparation that goes into getting ready for a race. Sophomore Emily Hankins explains how she prepares for cross-country meets.
“You have to start (getting ready) two days before, with eating good and making sure you’re hydrated,” Hankins said. “On a normal week, our workouts are about an hour and 30 minutes including the 15 minute warmup and 15 minute cooldown. The day before the meet, practice is only about 30-40 minutes; it is super quick. Basically, you have to get your body ready.”
At Butler, many out-of-town athletes have to adapt to El Dorado and its differences to where they are from. Particularly in a sport like cross-country, weather plays a significant role in how well one is able to run.
According to cross-country athlete, Freshman Erick Chavez, adjusting to the weather has a lot to do with the sport. As a Texas-raised athlete, Chavez notices differences in training in Kansas as opposed to training in Texas.
“I’m not used to the weather,” Chavez said. “The weather can be in the 50’s and I will feel like it is so cold. I’m used to the heat.”
For the men’s team, Chavez, Jumo, Garin Knight, Zach Trotter, and Valeur Muyoboke will advance onto nationals. For the women’s team, Ann Dangha, Leyni Gomez, Hankins, Williams, and Toby McClure will advance to nationals. With nationals, the cross country team is focusing on preparation and strategy.
“What gets me most excited for race day is once I put my braids in, then I know it’s actually race day,” Hankins said.