Calis Lim
Mercury Staff

Cross-country starts season off strong with first, second place at recent ASC championship

At around 6:30 every morning while the campus and sun still lie dormant, the UTD cross-country team warms up and prepares for the day’s training. This is the same routine that the team had leading up to their most recent ASC championship victories, where the men’s team placed first and the women’s team took second.

Both the teams have had a good season so far. At the previous meet — the Oct. 19 Bill Libby invite at McMurry — the men’s team placed first and the women’s team placed third. With those successes tucked away to celebrate later, the coach of both teams, Danielle Kcholi, is already focusing on the next meet.

“Winning conferences is nice, but we do have bigger goals — as in regionals — because the regional meet is what qualifies the team for nationals,” Kcholi said. “We aim to be on the national level.”

This year, about half of both teams are made up of underclassmen. The athletes are getting along well and everything has gone smoothly, said Kcholi, who has been with the UTD cross-country team since 2017.

“I think that this season, things had naturally progressed and clicked in a way that’s pretty cool to watch,” Kcholi said. “Everyone is very cohesive.”

Freshman runner Elizabeth Chimitt, who placed third at the Nov. 2 championship meet with a time of 23:40.7, said community is the best part of cross-country for her. At the previous McMurry meet, Chimitt ran a 24:10 6K and placed fourth.

“The night before the race, the girls team got together and talked with our coach,” Chimitt said. “The seniors talked and gave inspiration for us younger members. It was really cool to have us all encouraging each other.”

The women’s team had aimed to get first, but more than that, they wanted to improve, Chimmit said.

“Even though we got second, it was still an accomplished goal,” Chimitt said. “We were so far behind the team that got first in the first few meets, but we gave them a good scare in this last meet, so I say goal accomplished.”

The men’s team won the conference title for the second consecutive year. Trent Sakakini, who placed seventh at the championship meet  and was put on the All-Conference First Team, said he wants to continue to win conference again next year and keep it a tradition. At the last McMurry meet, Sakakini ran a 27:38 8K and placed 11th. Earlier this season at a UTD-hosted meet, he ran a 16:27 5K and placed sixth.  

“We’re going to do some more training in the off-season, get ready for next year to win again,” Sakakini said. “But the most important thing is seeing how we can do in regionals. Possibly in the next couple years, seeing if we can go to nationals.”

Sakakini said the team keeps him going and contributes to a generally great atmosphere.

“Whenever you have teammates with you, it’s a lot more fun,” Sakakini said. “You have people to train with, and you want to make them better and you want to make yourself better.”