Bring on next season

As the sun sets on the season for the Santa Monica College women's cross country team, runners and coaches are looking on to next season, and hoping to utilize a more experienced lineup.

"The women's season went well for what we had to work with," said Eric Barron, the team's head coach. "We had a lot of first-year runners who did not have a lot of experience running."

While runners Ashley Boutesaz and Sandra Ignacio were able to qualify for the Southern California regional championships, Barron said the rest of the team is still in its development stages.

After finishing 11th within the Western State Conference, Barron said he believes the caliber of his runners combined with the added experience will be an asset for them next season.

"The idea is that with more experienced runners, because long-distance running is a very cumulative activity, with more time they put in day in and day out, the benefits really pay off, so hopefully next year we will get to see those results," Barron said.

Marissa Tiamfook, assistant coach of the team, shared Barron's thoughts on what the team lacked and what can be improved.

"We have some really strong runners, but we just didn't have the depth that we need and that we've had in the past," she said. "Last year, as a whole team, we qualified for SoCal regionals, and this year we barely had enough runners to field a full squad of seven members."

She added that the training of each runner will determine the success of the team next season.

Sophomore standout Ashley Boutesaz said she did not believe that this season was a complete failure, despite the small team's limited success.

"It got better as the races went on," she said. "I got more confident and more fit, and it just got better each time I raced. The team is really fun, and we all get along so well, so that made practice fun."

With this season being Boutesaz' last season of eligibility, she said she hopes to keep running and transfer as a history major to the University of California, Los Angeles.

Freshman Sandra Ignacio, who, like Boutesaz, also qualified for regionals, felt that running at the college level has been a heavier load than it was in high school.

"I'm definitely working harder than in high school," she said. "Here, we do so many things that I've never done before."

Ignacio also said that the core workouts — and timing the longer distances she has had to run — has led to her picking up her training. Like Boutesaz, Ignacio felt that this season has been fun regardless of the outcome, especially making it to the regional championships.

"I was really surprised, and in high school, I would've never had that chance," said Ignacio.