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Cross-country team is on its way towards the nationals with pride and three races to go

Mills College Weekly

The Mills cross-country team keeps on running. With six
marathons already accomplished this year, the team is racing
towards the nationals with pride and self-assurance.

The team will be running a total of nine marathons this season,
which is already well under way.

Three weeks ago, the team competed at the Cal Pac conference;
out of 17 schools, Mills came in second place. But, according to
coach Sharon Chiong, they were most looking forward to the Mills

Last Friday, the team hosted the conference at Mills. After
running against some of the fastest teams in the region, Mills came
in third place.

“The energy was really great,” said junior Katka Loomisova. “It
was an honor to have the other schools at Mills. As a team, the
scores improved. It felt really good.”

According to Loomisova, she and Claire Abe were the first on the
Mills cross-country team to finish the race, coming within seconds
of each other.

The Mills community was very supportive, explained freshwoman
Carolyn Kraus. “People from all the teams were there to cheer us
on. Some teams had huge signs, like the crew team.”

With three races left in the season, the team is currently
preparing for the nationals within the National Association of
Intercollegiate Athletics.

Next Friday’s race is the qualifying meet. Chiong believes our
region’s chances of winning and going on to nationals are very
strong. We have a powerful edge because four of the top ten
cross-country teams in the nation are from the same region, she

The team “strives to compete at the highest level,” said Chiong
but, the success of the team is not determined in achievement

Cross-country running is “more than just physical performance,”
said Chiong. “The philosophy of the program is focusing on
educating the whole person, the body, mind, and spirit and striking
a balance.”

Chiong practices this philosophy with the team by “spending lots
of time with team bonding and unity circles…[we do] creative
visualization and muscular relaxation.”

This philosophy leaves runners with a sense of “there’s nothing
I can’t do,” according to Bianca Hovda, the team’s first assistant
coach this semester.

Hovda says the philosophy teaches runners to “look at themselves
as complete individuals,” not just, “I’m here to win, [but] I’m
here to do well in every aspect of my life.”

Hovda hopes to serve as an example to the team’s new runners. As
a Mills alumna, she wants to show the team that “life goes on after
Mills, education continues.” Because she went through the
cross-country program herself, “I can be an outlet, an inspiration,
a motivator.”

Sophomore Emily Ward is new to the school and the sport this
semester. “[The team has] amazing spirit, commitment, dedication,
and support. There’s something about the program. Everyone molds
together and thrives in their own way.” Ward said, “[cross-country]
is a fantastic opportunity to step out of other sports that were
all about the team, not the individual.”

“We’re really blessed to be involved in cross-country in this
environment,” said Chiong.

For the team, running the coastal trail, through Muir Woods, on
Stinson Beach, and in the Santa Cruz Mountains is a reward unto
itself, she said. “Mills runners are reminded to be in the moment,
to focus on the process and keep every aspect of their lives in a
balanced perspective.”

The cross-country team has a word for running with heart.
“Moyo,” the Zimbabwe word for heart, was adopted by former team
member, Marina Li after spending a semester abroad.

According to Chiong, when the word is applied to cross-country,
it means “the team has a collective heart…We will yell out “Moyo”
to run with heart and spirit… to remember we’re doing this for
fun, as a unified team.” When the team runs with “moyo,” “it will
take them a long way,” said Chiong.