Both the men and women’s Joliet Junior College cross country team have been putting in hard work all season long getting ready to compete at nationals taking place on Nov. 3.
The men’s cross country team is made up of freshmen Coby Hageman, Cody Hannig, Stephan Mcgarel, Efrain Quintero, and sophomores Michael Rodriguez, Jesus Tenorio, Jaime Quintero and Peter Klepec.
The women’s team is made up of Julia Aguilar, Cambrie Gallichio, Ana Pineda, and Erynn Wakefield who are all freshmen.
The teams are led by head coach Richard McCarthy and assistant coaches Jason Sutton and Alex Casserly. This is McCarthy’s 13th season with the program and Sutton’s third.
Sutton is a former runner for the Wolves. He was a team member of the inaugural Joliet Junior College men’s cross country team back in 2005. He competed for the Wolves again in 2006 as well.
Both teams competed in the Benedictine cross country invitational on Oct. 6. Hageman had the best time for the men finishing 81st overall. Other notable finishes for the Wolves were Quintero taking 120th place, Rodrigues finished 128th overall, and Klepec finished 152nd overall.
For the Lady Wolves, Pineda finished in 48th place with an impressive time of 25:24. Gallichio placed 123rd, Aguilar finished 146th, and Wakefield Finished 148th overall.
When asked about how he felt about the teams’ seasons so far, McCarthy said, “[We have an] exceptional group of young athletes this year on both the men and women’s side. Everyone is working hard and doing everything they can to help their teams.”
The men and women’s teams are both filled with young runners this season, meaning there will be plenty of returners for next season. The entire women’s roster is made up of freshmen and four of the eight men runners are also freshmen.
Both teams compete in some very tough races throughout the season, against many 4-year universities who give out scholarships. While that may be a challenge for such a young team, McCarthy says that his team has done well and it is good preparation for the upcoming regionals and nationals.
But with a young, less experienced team, also comes a lot of growth and improvement over the course of a season. “All of our runners have gradually improved all season. [We are] really seeing all of their hard work pay off in the last few races,” said McCarthy.
Of all of the improving runners, Hageman’s development has been impressive. Hageman has lowered his 8k time by over two minutes in the last two weeks. That is even more impressive considering this is his first year running 8k races.
In high school, the men’s races are only three miles compared to the 8k (which is almost 5 miles) ran in college. It is definitely a new challenge, but one that Hageman has met head on.
From the women’s team, Pineda has been having an incredible season so far in her freshman year as well. On Friday, Oct. 12, Pineda ran the second fastest 6k time for women in school history at 24:46. That is second only to Claudia Davila who was a former 2-time All-American.
Pineda may be in position for an All-American season herself along with fellow freshman Hageman. “[Both] have had an amazing season so far. Both have a great chance at All-American honors at nationals,” said McCarthy.
The top 15 runners from both men and women runners will be awarded All-American honors. But before nationals, the teams will compete in their regionals.
The region IV championship races will be held at Lake County on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 10 a.m.
The men and women’s team have been working extremely hard all season long getting ready to compete in the regionals and McCarthy could not be more proud of his team’s’ efforts.
When asked about his feelings on the remainder of the season, McCarthy said, “We have made great improvements and gained a lot of experience. We are looking forward to competing for the All-American spots at nationals and are very excited about what the future holds.”