For two athletes on the SF State cross country team to be named California Collegiate Athletic Association runners of
the week at the same time is remarkable. This feat becomes more incredible when both runners achieve that on their first race.
Junior transfer Ernesto Rodriguez and freshman Paxton Cota were named CCAA male and female runners of the week for Aug. 29 to Sept. 4. The awards come as a result of the Gators’ performances at the season-opening Notre Dame de Namur Invitational at the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif.
Head coach Tom Lyons was pleased to see his new runners reach such a high level so soon.
“The conference runner of the week stuff, that’s awesome,” Lyons said. “That’s a really impressive accomplishment. It’s not something we get very often.”
Rodriguez, who transferred from Pasadena City College as an anthropology major, was the second finisher and top Gator at the meet, running the 4.2-mile course in 21 minutes 48 seconds. His time, combined with those of seven other SF State runners in the top 13, helped the team to an overall first place finish at the meet. This is the third year in a row that the men’s team has opened the season with a victory.
On the course, Rodriguez is easily recognizable by his wild, long, wavy, black hair bouncing behind him. He sees this first win as a stepping-stone to greater accomplishments.
“Obviously the job isn’t done yet, it’s only the first week,” Rodriguez said. “We still have a lot more to go. But it feels good because I’m able to help out the team. It’s only the beginning of the season. We haven’t even started the hard workouts.”
Cota was the first Gator and second overall women’s finisher at the NDNI. She clocked a 23 minute 17 second time on the 6-km course, a mere five seconds behind first place. Cota is a true freshman from Dana Point High School, where she helped her team to a California Interscholastic Federation Division I championship in 2008.