Haskell Cross Country begins its 2021 season

Women’s Cross Country by Brianna Davis

In a year that challenged many students, Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) Cross Country runner Tavia Hart said staying connected with her teammates online has helped keep her motivated for the 2021 season. 

”It was nice to see and talk to my teammates again…and just having that camaraderie with my teammates pushed me to continue working hard both on and off the course”.

The team’s goal for this season is to go to nationals after not having a season last year. Hart said that the team has been training hard, and with all the returning runners, it is really going to pay off this season.

Hart’s advice for freshman runners is, “relax and have fun when you are running. We all want to do good, but if we take it all too seriously, by the time we are done, we are going to hate it. So just relax and enjoy the time you have with your teammates because it’s going to go by so fast.”

In their first meet of the season, at the Missouri Southern Stampede, the women placed 8th out of 8 teams. Sophomore Deanna Teller (Navajo Nation) placed 28th out of 62 runners in the 5k finishing with a time of 21:05. With her run, Teller was named the Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) Women’s Cross Country Runner for the Week.

Women’s Roster: Tiffany Berryhill, Anika Francis, Tavia Hart, Alexandra Holder, Jayme Morris, Deanna Teller, Kathryn Tso

Photo courtesy of Coach Mayes

Men’s Cross Country by Sidney Dick

On the Men’s Cross Country side, returning runner Dion John spoke on his targets for the season.  “My goals are to improve every day and PR (personal record) my times during the meet in cross country.” 

In speaking about being a student and athlete balancing out since returning back on campus, Dion stated, “I really have to manage time for practice and class every day of the week and show up to classes and practice on time. It feels kind of different being back on campus again because of COVID and I always have to be precautious and keep social distancing. Along with getting tested for COVID every once or twice a week. I always have to wear a mask now when we have to go work out at the gym because of COVID. It’s just a lot more different being back on campus before the pandemic.”

In the men’s first meet of the season at the Missouri Southern Stampede the team did not have enough runners to field a team score but their top runner Freshman, Chris Humetewa (Kewa Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo, Santa Ana Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, and Hopi tribe) from Rio Rancho, NM  placed 25th out of 126 runners in the 8k finishing with a time of 27:32. Humetewa was awarded the CAC Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week.

Men’s Roster: Tristan Antonio*, Dorian Daw*, Jonathan Fragua, Chris Humetewa, Dion Jerry, Jessie Madalena, Alexander Many Goats, Breydon Othole, Brian Quintero, Nelson Yazzie, Jarek Zunie

Photo courtesy of Coach Mayes

New Coach by Judaiah Little John

According to Haskell Athletics, Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) hired a new cross country coach this year, Clay Mayes is an alumnus and former athlete for the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Post-college, he coached at Bacone College from 2014 to 2018 and earned five National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national titles, three Straight Top 20 NAIA team finishes at cross country nationals, and a Sooner Athletic Conference team title. Between 2018 and 2020, Mayes coached at the University of Antelope Valley finishing 10th at NAIA Cross Country Nationals. At both Bacone and UAV, the cross country teams had over 20 various tribes representing the team garnering 21 All-Americans.

In responding to what is the team objective for this year Mayes said “The goal for this year is to just compete and play hard. I believe that we can go pretty far on our short schedule this year. We have some pretty good runners. Even though we might have more younger guys than older they still compete no matter the challenge”.

As a coach, how does Mayes lay the groundwork for the team to be successful? “My job is to get my runners prepared for the meets. I’m supposed to push them to their limits and make them better. If they want to win then they have to push themselves”.

Cross Country Schedule 2021

Missouri Southern Stampede @ 10:00 am Sept. 18 21’ Joplin, Missouri 

Billy Mills Invitational @ 8:05 am Oct. 9 21’ Billy Mills Course, Lawrence, KS

Florida’s State Universities XC Pre Nationals @ 9:00 am Oct. 15 21’ Tallahassee, FL

Continental Athletic Conference Invitational @11:00 am Nov. 6 21’ Billy Mills Course, Lawrence, KS

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