There are plenty of reasons people have hard races, but it isn’t usually due to the race course stealing their shoes.
At the Pacific West Conference in Hilo, Hawaii, one of Dixie State University’s top men’s cross-country runner had his shoe sucked away by the muddy course by the time he hit the second mile of the race.
“I probably should have stopped and tried to put [the shoe] back on,” said Hunter Chamberlain, a sophomore Spanish major from St. George. “But I wasn’t thinking straight and took the other shoe off to balance it.”
Part of his reasoning, Chamberlain said, was that the 8-kilometer course looked mostly grassy. However, he said there was lava rocks poking up from the deceptively grassy-looking turf.
“I’ve dug two little pieces out of my feet so far, but it really isn’t too bad,” Chamberlain said.
Head coach Justin Decker said this attributed to the men’s cross country team coming in sixth place.
“There are only eight points separating us from the third-place spot, and if Hunter had a normal race, we would have been 15 more points up and taken third, which was our goal going in,” Decker said.
Despite his gear difficulties, Chamberlain said he was only six minutes off his personal best time for the 8-kilometer race, with his shoeless race time coming in at 31:41.1.
For the men’s team overall, Rodney Warr, a senior mass communication major from St. George, finished first and took eighteenth place with a time of 28:37.6. Warr’s overall placement earned him All-PacWest honors, with a spot on the third team.
Alyssa Haring, a freshman general studies major from Riverside, California, brought the women’s cross-country team in with a time of 25:29.7 over the course of their 6-kilometer race.
“[The women’s team] tied and re-tied our shoes after seeing what happened to Hunter,” Haring said. “It was a tough course, both muddy and rocky.”
Overall, it was PacWest Conference déjà vu, with both the men’s and the women’s teams placing the same position as last year; the men’s team in sixth place and the women’s team took ninth for the conference bracket.
“This hasn’t discouraged the teams,” Decker said. “[The setback] has only made them motivated to show how good they really are, with no accidents to hold them back.”
With only their regional race, and possibly the NCAA Division II National Championships, Shi-Quan Nettingham, a senior mass communication major from Las Vegas, said he has started to look to his future after cross-country and college are over.
“I’m looking to get into [University of Nevada, Las Vegas] and get my masters in communication,” Nettingham said.
Nettingham said the sports podcast he created for his senior capstone was part of his career hopes to work as a sports broadcaster. He said he attributes much of his success and work ethic to his years he spent on DSU’s cross-country team, and would never give up running even after graduation.
“I’ll always look to squeezing in street races,” Nettingham said. “I want to be one of those old guys and be running in my fifties, sixties and beyond.”
The cross-country teams’ next meet will be regionals, in Billings, Montana, Nov. 5.