The Mesa Community College men’s and women’s cross country teams look to compete for a national championship Saturday.
The success of both the men’s and women’s team has been historic for MCC, and for head coach Daniel Pescador, the great season his teams have had is due to the runners he has and their mindset of striving to be better each day.
“The level of buy-in and commitment, we brought in a group of very talented individuals that really took that challenge of working hard and competing for each other,” said Pescador, ”They kept their goals high and their eyes set on those goals and what it requires to achieve them. They responded well to trying to be better than we were last year.”
The men’s team is coming off a season where they were ranked as high as No. 2 in the coaches poll.
Yotuel Garcia led the way for the team in many events, as he was named Division II National Runner of the Week and was the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference runner of the week three times.
In the ACCAC and National Junior College Athletic Association Championship, Garcia won individual titles for both the ACCAC and Region as the men’s team finished third overall in the ACCAC in scoring and second in Region I, Division II.
The women’s team is coming off a historic season as well, where they were able to capture both the ACCAC and NJCAA Region I Championships.
The women’s team reached new heights this season by reaching No. 1 in the coaches poll in early October, the first time in program history.
At the beginning of the season, the women’s team wrote down a list of goals for them to achieve this season and posted them in their locker room in order to be reminded of them on a daily basis.
Kate Brockman uses the list as motivation everytime she sees what the team hopes to accomplish.
“I look at it everytime I walk by, seeing it everyday just helps us stay focused on what we need to do and just make sure all the work we’ve done is not for nothing,” said Brockman.
Last season, the team went into nationals with little knowledge of their true potential and ended up finishing third, which still does not sit well with many on the team nearly a year later.
Brockman and many others use their third place finish last year as fuel going into this year’s national meet.
“It’s everything to us right now. We went in not knowing what to expect and still got third and now that we know what we can do, it just adds to our determination to win this,” said Brockman.
On such a large stage, and with so many eyes on you, it can be easy to see why athletes may get butterflies or feel nervous before competing.
For runner Anna Harmon, nationals will be the team’s opportunity to prove to themselves that they can meet their goals, and make history.
“Honestly, it’s a mix of everything, but I’m mostly excited because I feel like we have a great opportunity to do something really great and impressive and something that has never been done before.” said Harmon.
For Harmon, this season has had its ups and downs, as she had to battle injury during the season. Luckily for her, she is ready to compete with her team again and do what she loves.
“I love being a part of the team…running has improved my quality of life and it makes me very happy. It felt really great to be able to come back and jump back into how I was doing before I was injured and hopefully better than I was doing before I was injured,” said Harmon.
For head coach Daniel Pescador, though he believes his runners may have nerves to shake, they must understand they have built their way to this moment the entire season.
“We’d be lying if we said we were not nervous, the way to combat that is keeping to the basics doing what we’ve been doing all year. Understand that the pressure is not on us at the end of the day,” said Pescador, “We were third last year and ranked two going into it. It’s a way to kind of trick ourselves, but if we go in and execute we can achieve our goals.”
The teams will compete in the NJCAA Divisoin II Cross Country Championships on Nov. 12 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, FL.