TAMIU women’s cross country makes history
By Bella E. Contreras
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, Nov. 16, 2020
For the first time, a TAMIU cross country team competed on the national level as two members of the women’s team and one of the men placed in the top 25.
During the 2020 Division II Cross Country All-National Invitational women’s 6K race in Lubbock on Nov. 14, Texas A&M International University senior Abril Escamilla led the Dustdevils at 18th of the 95 runners with 23:15.7. Sophomore Faith Kiprotich placed 20th with a time of 23:21.4.
Two other women also competed: senior Karla Resendez, 40th, and freshman Julissa Garza, 73rd.
For the men’s 10K race, freshman Gideon Kipon took 19th place and junior Nicholas Martinez took 55th.
This was a historical wrap-up for a strong season by the Dustdevils.
Back on Oct. 31, the women finished fourth and the men eighth at San Angelo, Texas, for the Lone Star Conference Cross Country Championship. At the event, 15 women’s teams and 14 men’s teams competed.
For the women’s 6K, the team earned 132 points. Three members took top-15 spots in All-Conference honors: Escamilla at fourth, Kiprotich at 10th and Resendez at 14th. Two others placed: freshman Julissa Garza, 33rd, and junior Claudette Soto, 80th.
In the men’s 8K, the team earned 204 points. Top-15 rankings include Martinez taking 11th and Kipon taking 15th. Four of the other men placed: sophomore Jose Esqueda, 47th, junior Ruben Martinez, 67th, freshman Daniel Villareal, 70th, and senior Marlon Amador, 108th.
Previously on Oct. 16, TAMIU’s women’s and men’s cross country teams placed third and fifth at the Angelo State Blue and Gold Meet. With this season’s quarantine, cross country is one of the only sports allowed to compete, putting tremendous pressure on the teams, but coach Benny Rodriguez seemed unfazed as they pressed toward the season’s end.
Last year, the Dustdevils joined the Lone Star Conference, which now boasts 18 members across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas. Rodriguez told The Laredo Morning Times then, “Cross country will be tough, but we will chip into the national standings.”
This year’s pre-season polls picked the women and men to place 11th and 9th, respectively.
In response, Rodriguez wrote in an email that while TAMIU was absent from the national standings since 2017, the goal is to always rank nationally.
“Polls don’t mean a lot,” Rodriguez said. “We all have one shot to run a perfect race.”
Escamilla made her third season top-10 finish and second top-five finish with a time of 22:38:9, finishing fifth during the Blue and Gold Meet. Resendez and Kiprotich achieved top-10 finishes.
For the men, Ruben Martinez finished 11th with a time of 26:11:6. Kipon and Esqueda placed 12th and 18th, respectively.
With such a high placement at the meet, Rodriguez said in an email he was not worried about the competition saying, “We have to work, regardless, to achieve our goals.”