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Point Loma women’s cross country team finishes in top 12 at nationals

The Point Loma women’s cross country team made history this year by being the first PLNU team to compete for a national title. After coming in 4th at the NCAA West Regional, they headed to Florida for nationals and placed 12th out of 32 teams.

“It was a well-deserved honor and shows the dedication and desire of the young ladies on the team,” Coach Arvin stated in an email interview about the race. “At the start of every season the ultimate goal is to be at the national championship meet… We knew only six teams would get out of the west region so the girls wanted to make sure that they were one of those six teams.”

Emotions were high when the girls found out they were going to nationals. Marissa Bartello commented about her reaction in an email interview, “It felt amazing being the first team to qualify for NCAA Nationals. We worked so hard for nationals and we all came together and achieved it.”

Her sister, Brianna Bartello agreed when she wrote, “It felt so overwhelming (in a good way) because this has been a goal for the whole team since the beginning of the semester… it was nice to see all of our hard work finally pay off.”

Alexandra Hernandez even added, “A lot of us started crying a little bit when we found out!”

It took an enormous amount of work and focus to get to nationals. Hernandez commented, “I think we got [to nationals] because our whole team is a lot stronger this year. So many of us had really amazing training partners to push us. Also the time gap between our first girl and our fifth girl has closed so much. We are all racing much closer together.”

Hannah Benoit Bucher added, “As a team, we motivated and encouraged each other to try our best throughout the whole season. Each and every lady on the team was a huge contributor throughout the entire season.”

  1. Bartello agreed that the team’s support system was central to getting to nationals, and also stated that coach Arvin was essential as well. “What got us there was our commitment to each other and to God. We were so supportive to anyone that was struggling, even during races we would motivate each other to do the best we could and to stay with each other. Our coach is an amazing coach and the workouts he had for us were perfectly timed and really helped us going into the races.”

The team was underestimated throughout the season and proved everyone wrong by placing 12th in nationals. “At the beginning of the year, no one even considered us as a top contender,” said Bucher. “So, after a long season of training and improvement, it was great to be able to represent Point Loma in a national event.”

Hernandez agreed. “It was incredible because we are the underdog and no one really expected anything from us. We finished better at nationals this year than we did at regionals last year! The improvements are crazy.”

  1. Bartello explained how the team continued to improve and illustrate what they were capable of. “Our first national ranking was 18th, then we moved to 15th the week before nationals and then finished 12th. I am so proud of our team for proving that we were better than 15th and 18th.”

Still, for every great victory, there are challenges and partial downfalls. Coach Arvin stated, “Early on we had girls who were sick or injured and we needed to be patient [so they could] all [get] back as quickly as possible without prolonging the issues.”

Arvin was unfortunately unable to attend nationals with the rest of the team. “A setback this season was not having our coach with us at the national meet [due to family reasons].” Hernandez said. “Our coach is constantly by our side supporting us and guiding us so not having him at our biggest meet of the season… was really sad for everyone. However, he wished us all good luck and gave us hugs before we headed to the airport, wrote us all letters, and FaceTimed us, so it felt like he was with us the entire time!”

As the season comes to a close, the girls look toward the future. B. Bartello discussed the team’s goals for next season. “We are going to train harder and focus more on closing the gaps between our teammates. If we do that then we can definitely have a good chance on making it to nationals again and maybe even placing higher.”

  1. Bartello agreed and said, “A goal for next year would definitely be to have our team finish top ten, and personally to be an All-American. Another goal for the team would be to have everyone get a bit faster than last year because that would make us unstoppable if each of us picked up some speed.”

Coach Arvin also has high hopes for the future and remarked, “Our plans are to be the best runners that each of them can be, for the team to continue to improve and to start the season and end it with the same goals for achievement that we had this past season.”

The PLNU women’s cross country team are an excellent group of ladies who all are great representatives of the message this campus strives to send to the world. We look forward to seeing what they accomplish next year and will be supporting them every step of the way.

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Sara Arsenault

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