Westmont cross country runners surpass their own expectations at WJU meet

Kelli Burell, Staff Writer

On Saturday, Oct. 24, Westmont’s cross country team competed against four other colleges in the WJU Warrior Invitational at William Jessup University. While the women’s cross country team ran a 5K, and the men’s team competed in an 8K, both teams finished in second.

Sophomore John Baker claimed that the meet “was a good showing in general from our team.”  He explained, “We had the tightest team spread, meaning we had the shortest amount of time between runners as we each crossed the finish line.” 

Baker admitted that he did not expect to perform as well as he did. He claimed, “This was one of my best races,” explaining that he “PRed by about 30-40 seconds on a hilly course.” 

Freshman Anneline Breytenbach was among those who ran on Saturday and finished first among the collegiate athletes even though this is her first year ever on a cross country team.

Races have looked a little different with COVID, so this was really only our third race into the season.”

— MADDEN HUNDLEY

Breytenbach has played soccer and tennis since she was just six years old and began running track during her junior year of high school. She enjoyed the running aspect of soccer, but the cross country schedule conflicted with tennis, so it wasn’t until coming to Westmont that she decided to try her hand at cross country.

Breytenbach said, “It was my first time running a 5K, so it was a bit longer than I was expecting.” Though she performed very well on Saturday, one thing she wants to work on is her pacing. Now that she has experienced what running a 5K is like, she knows how to improve for the next race. 

Both Breytenbach and sophomore Madden Hundley attested to the importance of running the course the day before the meet.

Breytenbach stated, “We left for Rocklin on Thursday night, so all day Friday we were at the hotel … and we were able to run the course that night, so we would know where to press.” Hundley shared her sentiment, explaining how being familiar with the course drastically helps on race day.

Even though she was able to envision the course and prepare accordingly, Madden Hundley admitted to feeling nervous prior to Saturday’s race, partly due to recent foot injuries and partly due to how COVID-19 has shaped their season.

Hundley said, “Races have looked a little different with COVID, so this was really only our third race into the season, and my second because I was injured for the first one.” 

Hundley admitted that starting the season with two injured feet has been difficult, but she can’t help but hope to qualify for nationals like she did last year. Ultimately, however, Hundley enjoys running for the sake of running, and claimed she won’t be too disappointed if she doesn’t qualify for nationals this year.

With a smile, Hundley told The Horizon, “Nationals is a plus, but I just run because I love it.”

The next race for these two teams is the Golden State Athletic Conference, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7. The course is exactly the same as the one they ran last Saturday, so these athletes are armed and ready to make the appropriate changes and showcase their abilities in just over a week.