Women’s cross-country team headed for CCAA championship

The Chico State women's cross-country team in Upper Bidwell Park earlier this season. The team is currently preparing for the California Collegiate Athletic Association championships. Photo courtesy of Gary Towne

After watching her teammates run toward the California Collegiate Athletic Association championship title last year, junior Quetta Peinado will compete in the Nov. 8 CCAA title meet in San Bernardino.

“Having my last three seasons end injury-riddled, this will be my first time competing at the conference championship,” Peinado said. “We have a really great team and have really excelled in working together. A few others competing at conference have experience with postseason racing so it helps the team as a whole.”

Last year, Peinado missed out on competing in the conference championship, held at Chico State, while recovering from a stress reaction in her left shin. The injury is reoccurring, and something she has to deal with every year.

So far this year, she has stayed healthy. By doing so, she picked up All-CCAA Runner of the Week at the end of September after finishing second among all Division II athletes at the Stanford Invitational.

“She’s been one of our best runners and always seems to be one of the first across the line at each event this season,” said Gary Towne, the head cross-country coach.

Peinado is one of several strong runners that Chico State will have on the course for the championship. Chico State is one of eight schools that will enter the event, with each school bringing up to 10 runners. The ‘Cats are going for their seventh straight CCAA title.

Team totals are determined by scoring the finishes of the top five runners of each squad, with the lowest team total winning. Last year’s Chico State men’s team had the lowest possible score — 15 — after the top six finishers in the event were Wildcats.

Towne said that while he certainly isn’t expecting Wildcats to dominate the top six spots across the line again, he doesn’t sense there being many gaps in the team’s scoring.

“We have a very tight-knit group, both off the track and on it,” Towne said. “There hasn’t been much separation between our top finishers in most events so far this year.”

The women’s team will be running a 6K in San Bernardino and the team is training daily — rain or shine — to prepare for the meet. If the Wildcats are among the top finishers at the CCAA’s, they can move on to the regional meet in Billings, Montana, and then potentially off to Louisville, Kentucky for the national event.

“Gary does a great job of making sure we are in the right part of our training when we need to be,” Peinado said. “Our goal is to be in top shape in December for nationals, but everything is starting to click now and the team is looking strong.”

Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.