By David Elvir
Trevecca’s cross country team kicked their season off on Sept. 1 at the 2023 Belmont University Opener. Coached by Austin Selby, in his seventh season, they have tackled two of the scheduled seven meets this season.
In the season opener at Belmont, The Trojans finished ninth out of 12 participating schools with Bellarmine University taking home first-place honors.
Hamzah Abo-Hashema, the only senior on the men’s roster, led the Trojans with a 16:13.9 time, finishing No. 43 in the field of 118. He ran almost 30 seconds faster here than the last time they opened at this race.
Ruth Penney led the way for the women, coming in at 19:38.6.
Trevecca went on to host the Michael Pretorius Invitational. This race is named after Michael Pretorius, a former team member who passed away July 31, 2022, after battling cancer for a second time. The meet featured a 4.97-mile (8K) race for the men and a 3.1-mile (5K) race for the women.
Abo-Hashema repeated as the top Trojan (25:48.4) and led the team to a five out of eight finish.
“It was a good race. The main goal was to stay consistent, and I did that for the most part except for the fourth mile. It’s a solid race. It’s not the best out there, but I’ll take it and hopefully, we move on to some faster courses that will have to time drop a little bit,” said Abo-Hashema.
Hope Illias led the women’s Trojans with a time of 19:26.8, which was enough for a top-20 finish (19). The women’s team finished 4th place out of eight teams.
Coach Selby is happy with his roster and has set goals for this season.
“We just want to keep getting better. I think our women are better than what they have been in a really long time, so I see them moving up a little bit in the conference, at least a couple places from last year,” said Selby. “For the men, I think we will probably be about the same, if not a little bit better than last year. We just want to go out and continue to be a team that people know of, not just because of our location, but because we have good results.”
Coach Selby recognizes he has a very young team and that mental confidence is a struggle for the team and something they are working on. With only three seniors, two women and one man, maturity on the line is something the team will try to work on.
“Hopefully I can also help develop our team. It is mainly freshmen right now, or a majority of freshmen at least. I am hoping to just coach them and get them to a position where they understand the college running scene and how that works—show them how jumping from a 5K to 8K is not that scary. You just got to be prepared for it,” said Abo-Hashema.
The Trojans have their eyes set on conference competition and have not even started to fully dive into that kind of preparation.
“We, believe it or not, haven’t started our hardest workouts, we haven’t gotten to the real grind yet of the training sessions. We are just trying to time it right so that come conference and NCAA we are ready to go,” said Selby.
The Trojans will feature in conference competition on Oct. 21 at the Great Midwest Championship. They will also attend the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 4 and the NCAA DII Championship on Nov. 18.