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Mills hosts largest cross country invitational in years

Courtesy of APER

The Mills College Cross Country team finished fourth in the women’s 5k race at Saturday’s Mills Invitational. Their top runner, sophomore Lupe Cazares, finished 10th overall with a time of 22 minutes and 20 seconds. The Invitational, the team’s only home meet, consisted of a women’s 5k and a men’s 8k. Four teams competed in the women’s race and six competed in the men’s race.

The teams were scored by their top five finishers: those five places were added up for points, and their times were added up for total time.

With nine teams competing, 54 women (about a dozen of them individual runners not associated with any team) running and 44 men running, “this was the biggest invitational in many years,” Head Cross Country Coach Laura Davis said.

Bianca Havda, Assistant Cross Country Coach and Mills Alum ’03 agreed. In the five years that she has been with the Mills Cross Country team (her first years were as a runner on the team), “every year I’ve participated it has been getting bigger and more well known.”

Davis, who was the main organizer behind the Invitational, had hoped to increase the number of teams participating from four teams last year to six teams this year. After surpassing that goal this year, she now hopes to have 12 teams participating next year.

Davis also wants the Invitational to be more inclusive of the Mills community, as well as respected by the community. “I would love to see more (individual runners not associated with any college team) runners from the Mills and Oakland communities next year.”

This year, she added, the Invitational could not have happened without the support of the Mills community, Campus Facilities, Public Safety and the nearly 40 volunteers. Despite early rain, participation did not dwindle and enthusiasm remained high. The rain stopped for the start of the race, leaving a cool air that many runners said was ideal. Juinor Lily Page agreed. “At first I was afraid of the rain, but the cool temperature proved beneficial,” she said.

Though the team consists of mostly new, inexperienced runners, Davis cited a “deep dedication” and seriousness about the sport that will create a successful team.
Lupe Cazares, sophomore and Team Captain, agreed. “I thought we were great,” Cazares said. “Coach Davis worked hard trying to make the team strong, and this race made me say, ‘I’m a strong runner.'”

Enthusiasm on their home turf excited Davis, who said many runners who ran had huge personal improvements and already many personal goals have been realized.
As the team left, Davis yelled: “Remember, no practice on Monday!”

Cazares looked up, shocked. “What?” she said.

“Are you at least going to e-mail us a workout to do?” yelled another player.
Davis smiled proudly and said, “Dedication goes further than genetic talent. It’s mental.”