For the first time in program history, the UTD women’s cross-country team captured the ASC Championship title.
At the Oct. 29 meet, the top two women’s individual finishers and another runner in the top 10 represented UTD. Head coach Rayn House was also named the ASC Women’s Cross-Country Coach of the Year.
While the win is historic for the school, House said she thinks it is even more meaningful to the team.
“Some of the girls that have been here, especially our seniors, they’ve worked so hard for four years and really done what they needed to do to put this program on the map,” she said. “I know the school is proud, and it says a lot for the growth of UTD and UTD Athletics, but I’m even more proud for the girls who have really laid the groundwork for this. You can see it in their faces.”
House, who is also the assistant softball coach, is new to both the school and the sport.
“My experience at UTD this first year has been amazing,” she said. “I never dreamed that my first conference ring would be in running. But if I was going to do it, I wouldn’t have done it with any other group. There aren’t even ways to tell you how awesome they are.”
The team’s effort and character have been the most important factors in leading them to the title.
“It’s their work ethic,” House said. “They just work hard and they respect others.”
The dynamic between the team also helped on their path to success.
“Sometimes with girls, everyone doesn’t always love each other all the time, but this group loves each other all the time,” she said.
Hollee Ratliff, a neuroscience freshman, said the group always encourages each other, even just during practice.
“The whole team is kind of close knit,” she said. “We cheer each other on, we work together as a team, and that’s how we succeed.”
Ratliff placed second overall in the competition. She said she was excited to be able to come in this year and help out, but she stressed it was a group effort.
“The conference wasn’t won by Lindsey (Rayborn) and I,” she said. “It was won by all of the team members. It doesn’t take just two people, it takes seven or eight.”
Lindsey Rayborn, a geoscience junior, made UTD history by becoming the first student-athlete to win the individual title in cross-country.
At the start of her freshman year, Rayborn thought winning would be easy, but quickly learned that wasn’t the case. She placed second overall in the same race in 2014 and seventh in 2015.
“It was very humbling because I wasn’t able to just go out there and easily win,” she said.
This season, Rayborn focused on staying healthy, both mentally and physically.
“I realized I really needed to have my head in it,” she said. “This year, I came to practice prepared to work.”
She had a hard time sleeping leading up to the race with the pressure of the competition. Despite her stress, she still maintained confidence in her abilities.
“I knew that I’d beaten all of those girls before and that I could do it again,” Rayborn said.
For Rayborn and the other runners, training year-round was key to pushing into first place. They plan to continue that in the upcoming off-season, which will lead into Rayborn’s last year.
“I want to go out with a bang,” Rayborn said. “I want to try and win conference again, both as a team and as an individual. That’s always been at the top of my list. I definitely want to make it to nationals as well.”
For next season, House expects their ASC title win will drive them to more success moving forward.
“Now that we’ve got a taste of what winning is like, there are girls that are on the team this year that will come back so much stronger next year,” House said. “As long as they keep this feeling in their gut, how good this feels, I think we’ll be okay for next year.”