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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Women’s Team of the Quarter: Cross Country

The women’s cross country team proved to be a formidable opponent over the past few months, facing off against many talented schools during the fall season.  Everything from the team’s wins, to the finishes of individual runners, to the team’s award-winning coach gives reason for its status as the UC Davis Women’s Team of the Quarter.

One of the many reasons that makes this team a clear choice for Team of the Quarter is coach Devin Elizondo. He was given the honor of Big West Women’s Conference’s Cross Country Coach of the Year after he helped lead the team to a first-place victory. The recipient of this award is voted on by the coaches participating in the Conference, and though an honor, Elizondo said that he wouldn’t feel up for it if the women did not perform as well as they did.

“[The award] comes hand in hand with the way the women performed,” said Elizondo.  “While it’s nice – it’s great – it comes out of the women doing exactly what they said they were going to do on paper, and executing it.”

Placing first at the Big West Conference was exactly what the team was shooting for. The goal going into the meet was to have all runners place in the top 20, and when the race ended, the women all finished within the top 15.

The women’s team fosters an environment conducive to success, which is only strengthened with an athlete like junior Christine Hoffman. The junior peaked with her performance at the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she placed 17th. According to Elizondo, this finish “allowed [her teammates] to see a little bit of themselves at that level. [It’s good to] see her having fun, and smiling and giggling, but then also working her tail off.”

Hoffman added, “I think it helps being in a good place that makes you happy and makes you love what you do.”

The Aggies – though successful in many of their endeavors – fell short of their goals when they competed at the NCAA West Regional meet in Stanford, Calif. While the women gave an admirable performance, sometimes not everything goes as planned. They placed 11th — a disappointment following the previous two years’ results of sixth and seventh. But despite the letdown, Elizondo said that it would provide fuel for next year — to be one last check box to cross off on their lengthy list of goals.

Winning the Big West Conference was the definite highlight of the year, for more reasons than one. It was a moment where every person was proud of how they ran.

“It came together as an entire team success,” Hoffman said.

On an individual level, senior captain Raquel Lambdin was able to hold the Big West trophy for the last time as an Aggie. As the only team member remaining from the last 2011 Big West Championship win, it was a powerful occasion.

“To hand Rocky [Lambdin] the trophy from that day and to see how hard she worked as a captain to grow into that spot, and then all of these ladies helping her lift it over her head — it’s a pretty good moment, one that I’ll definitely walk away with,” Elizondo said.

The UC Davis women’s cross country team bears many accolades and accomplishments, which is a recurring testament to the team’s dynamic drive to succeed. They were able to end the comparatively short season with, most notably, two first-place finishes and one second-place finish. The team is constantly growing in power and versatility, and has high expectations for next year. Their experiences this year will serve to envigor and inspire them as track and field rolls around, all the way until cross country season next year. All of this serves as proof for why they are more than qualified to be named Women’s Team of the Quarter.

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