LA JOLLA, Calif. — It’s better to run with others than on your own.
That was the mood at the opening cross country practice of the 2018 season, with Tritons both new and old taking their first steps toward the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh.
Monday morning’s practice took place in Rancho Peñasquitos, before the team reconvened for an afternoon weight-training session on campus.
“I’m super excited,” said head coach Nate Garcia, who is entering his 12th season at the helm. “I spend my summer enjoying my time off, but also being excited about working with the team again.”
Although cross country is often viewed as an individual sport, there’s also a team aspect that makes it enjoyable for both coaches and student-athletes.
“They have to focus on themselves and push themselves,” said Garcia, “but there is a team dynamic. It’s a group working together and it’s what we can accomplish as a group that is most exciting to me.”
It’s not just the coaching staff eager to begin a new season. The athletes are also ready for a new year and are delighted to be running alongside their teammates.
“The first day back running with everyone has been really fun,” said junior Camille Perkins. “Running all summer by yourself is different. Then you come back, and you’re surrounded by everyone. We all vibe really well.”
The opening week is mostly dedicated toward finding out each individual’s conditioning level, as well as discovering what steps need to be taken in order to reach their full potential.
In addition to a team goal of climbing up the standings in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) — the men placed fifth and the women finished sixth in 2017 — there are even bigger goals for individuals to strive for.
“I want to go to nationals,” said Perkins. “I want to make it. Being an upperclassman, I’ve seen others go in previous years.
“It was very inspiring seeing Ella (Verhees) go last year. I saw it can be done. That’s what gets me out the door in the morning.”