Moment of the
Cross Country Runs First Race After Tragic Accident
"We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration..." -- Winston Churchill
Those words of Winston Churchill were never truer than on the first Saturday in September.
The California Baptist University cross country program was suffering and it badly needed inspiration.
On Aug. 9, 2010, while traveling to a high-altitude preseason training camp in Mammoth, Calif., CBU Cheerleading Head Coachwas killed and a dozen team members were injured in a fatal three-vehicle, multiple-fatality accident on California Highway 395 near Bishop, Calif.
Rice was driving one of three vans carrying the student-athletes, and she died when her van was struck by an oncoming SUV that ran out of control, overturned and burst into flames on impact.
Never before had CBU Athletics been struck with such shock and grief at the sudden passing of a beloved colleague, and in the hours and days that followed the CBU family came together in unprecedented ways.
Yet, with their preseason training program severely altered and in the midst of their suffering, the Lancers, a little less than a month removed from the tragedy, dealt with the situation the only way they knew how.
Dedicating their entire 2010 season to Rice and their injured teammates, and using the vivid memory of the accident as their inspiration, the Lancers took to the course for their season opener at the Jammin' Invitational hosted by Cal State Fullerton.
"The only thing I remember from that race was that we really ran it as a team," said sophomore Chase Williams. "We had a bond because of what happened, and it showed during the race."
Even before the race there were poignant moments. Though not everyone raced, the entire team was there with the exception of one teammate who was still rehabbing. It was the first time they were all together since the accident.
Prior to the start, the entire field had a moment of silence.
Then it was business as usual.
Behind their newly adopted mantra of "Running for a Greater Purpose," the CBU men finished fourth in a strong 18-team field, behind only three NCAA Division I squads. The Lancer women finished 12th.
"We had a great race considering the path we have taken the last month," said CBU Head Coach Wade Watkins moments after the race. "This team is definitely running with a 'one for all, all for one' mentality. We fully understand that we are running for a greater purpose."
The men's race
featured 18 teams and 197 runners. UCLA, the sixth-ranked Division I team in
the West Region, won the event with 23 points, putting all five runners in the
top seven. Long Beach State was third with 68 points, and Cal State Fullerton
finished third with 92 points, ahead of the Lancers, who tallied 156 points.
CBU put three in the top 35. Sergio Rodriguez led the way finishing 27th with a time of 26:58.2. Mitchell Moore was 30th with a 27:06.4, and All-GSAC Javier Madrid was 35th with a 27:19.7.
Williams ran a 27:46.2 and finished 52nd while Mark Langworthy ran a 27:54.6 and finished 57th to complete the Lancers' scoring.
the women's race, the Lancers finished 12th out of 24 teams,
finishing ahead of NCAA Division II foes Cal State L.A. and Cal Poly Pomona.
Ana Mendoza was the top finisher, running a 24:44.8 to finish 63rd. Jacquie Lutz was 74th with a 25:00.1. Natasha Brown clocked a 25:14.5 and finished 82nd. Kayla Beaudoin ran a 25:25.7 to finish 91st, and Megan Smedley posted a 25:45.7 to finish 99th.
Indeed it was an inspirational effort by a grieving yet inspired group of young kids who rose to the challenge by simply answering the gun.
The results were the least of their concern.
Just a week later the men would win their first invitational title since being reinstated as a program, finishing first at the Redlands Invite.
But the soul of the season sprung forth on that season-opening Saturday, because at that moment, the Lancers drew from their heart of suffering the means of inspiration that carried them the rest of the season.
And they found their purpose.
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Moments of the Year: Honorable Mention