With just five scheduled track meets left in the outdoor season, the Lady Rams have qualified two more athletes for the NAIA National Championships.
On March 11, sophomore distance runner Maria Galarza participated in the Panther City Hall marathon and met the NAIA qualifying standard, according to ramsports.net. With a time of 1:30.30.4, Galarza set a new personal record and ran the fourth fastest time in the history of the program.
Freshman sprinter Chas Crawford competed at the University of Incarnate Word on March 17 and finished first in both the 100m and 200m dash, according to ramsports.net. She posted NAIA qualifying marks with a time of 12.07 in the 100m and 24.89 in the 200m dash.
Galarza and Crawford join teammates Alexis Bustos, Abby Chaidez, and Melissa Gonzalez, who have already qualified for the NAIA National Championship, which will be held in Gulf Shores, Ala. on May 25-27.
Crawford is the only sprinter so far to qualify for nationals and she could not be more thrilled.
“I am very excited and I can wait to see what happens next,” said Crawford, a chemistry major. “I know I had been working for it, but I still could not believe I qualified. I don’t keep up with my stats, I am literally just out there running.”
Crawford said missing nationals during the indoor season was very disappointing.
“I really could have made it,” she said. “I don’t know why it took me so long to finally get it going, but it was too late by then. Making nationals for outdoor definitely makes up for not making nationals during the indoor season. I’m glad I finally got it together.
“Coach Nat (Natnael Amare) is trying to get me to qualify in the 400 as well, but I’m just hoping to drop my times in both the 100m and 200m before nationals.”
Galarza was told she two days prior to running the half marathon that she would be competing in the race, an event she is not fond of.
“I have never ran the half marathon in my life,” said Galarza, an education major. “I have seen my teammates running it before and thought, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to do this,’ and so I was very nervous when Coach Nat threw the news at me.”
Galarza said it was a relief to qualify, but she would feel more at ease if she qualified in another event.
“I know that I at least have spot to go, but I’m trying to get qualified in the 5k or 10k run,” she said. “We are a really small team, so winning nationals as a team isn’t really option.”
Galarza said the number of qualifiers is a big step up from last season.
“Only one girl qualified last year; she was a jumper,” she said. “During cross country only me and one other girl qualified for nationals. It was really sad leaving behind the girls we worked so hard with during the season. It’s better having your teammates with you, so it feels a lot better knowing that there are four other girls who are for sure going.”
Head coach Natnael Amare remains humble as his team continues to impress.
“It has been a blessing so far,” Amare said. “Right now we have five girls and one guy, we should have another guy get qualified. I am also hoping Carrie Finson will be able to make it as well, and I would like for Melissa Gonzalez to qualify in the 5k.”
Even though they are qualified, they are not done competing just yet, he said.
“They know that made it nationals, because I told them, but I will still tell them that they may not go,” he said. “They know I don’t say that, ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘Good job’ because then they get very comfortable. Their job is to run, mine’s is to make all the corrections.
“We’re going to increase their mileage and use the remaining track meets to get them faster. If I don’t see any improvements there is no reason for them to go to nationals.”
The Lady Rams are scheduled to run in the MT SAC Relays, hosted by Mt. San Antonio College, on April 14 and 15. For more information on the Lady Rams go to ramsports.net.