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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Gators stay competitive, manage to rack up awards at CCAA championship

Olivia Renfro won the CCAA Elite 13 award for the second year in a row
SFSU women’s cross-country team competing at the 2023 Western Regionals at the Ash Creek Preserve, Monmouth, Oregon on Nov. 4, 2023. (Kendrick Mooney / San Francisco State Athletics)

As the echo of the starting pistol blared, the distance runners started their exhilarating journey to the finish line.

Several San Francisco State University athletes finished strong in the cross-country CCAA Championships and received awards for their accomplishments. The championships took place on Oct. 21 at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont, California.

The pinnacle of the championships was the performance of sophomore Anika Pettinger, who claimed a top 15 finish and earned All-Conference Honors. She finished 28 places better than where she placed in last season’s championships.

SFSU cross-country athlete, Anika Pettinger at the XC: CCAA X Country Championships at Quarry Lake Fremont, California on Oct. 21, 2023 . (Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne / KLC fotos)

“She and I –– and our head coach –– have been talking about being on All-Conference for about a year now,” said Sierra Bill, the Gators assistant coach. “Once track ended last year, we started talking about what it’s going to take to be All-Conference and just working with her about getting in the right headspace, acting like she belongs in the front pack and competing in the most strategic way to get her to where she wants to be.”

Pettinger is seen as a leader of this group and persevered through some injuries in the season. Her effort and determination is something that is not overlooked by her peers or her coaches.

“She is such a good leader for the rest of the women on the team, not just the women on the team but the men as well, seeing her put in the work every single day, months at a time,” Bill said. “It is really a test of patience and dedication.”

Graduate student Olivia Renfro added to the Gator’s success by earning herself her second CCAA Elite 13 award in as many years. The award is given out to the student-athlete who has the highest GPA while also competing in their respective sport.

“It caught me by surprise, the first time [winning], I really didn’t think about it, and then the second time it caught me by surprise but it was nice, I worked and I feel like it was well deserved,” Renfro said.

Renfro also ran in the race and placed 88th, running alongside four other Gators.

“It was really good, I personally didn’t run my best race, but it was good to have my teammates out there and honestly, I was just trying to run for them,” Renfro said. “I am always trying to run, if it’s a good day, it’s a good day.”

Cross-country athlete, Julia Pioroda, competing at the 2023 Western Regionals at the Ash Creek Preserve, Monmouth, Oregon on Nov. 4, 2023. (Photo credit: Kendrick Mooney / San Francisco State Athletics)

Freshman runners Raven Nieto and Julia Pioroda had a promising run and have excited their peers about their future seasons. Nieto and Pioroda have never competed at a conference championship in college, but the talent they displayed bodes well for the seasons to come.

“They definitely did get a little bit nervous and didn’t perform as well as maybe they had hoped but they’re freshmen and it’s their first time, got one under their belt, so hopefully, they’ll know how to handle that pressure a little bit more but going into the meet, I just tried to reassure them that they’ve put in all of the work this season, they’re strong competitors and athletes,” Bill said.

Nieto placed 60th in her first CCAA championships run of her collegiate career and felt she could have placed higher.

“I thought it was fun, it was really intimidating as a freshman to go to such a really intense race,” Nieto said. “It kind of scared me a little bit, I got a PR(personal record), but I definitely could have pushed a little harder.

Nieto stated that the confidence and readiness from her team helped her get through the race when she did not feel the most ready for the championships and it helped her get a PR.

Adversity hit before the race for Pioroda as she was fighting through an injury, but she never planned on giving up on the chance to race at the championships.

SFSU cross-country athlete, Olivia Renfro at the XC: CCAA X Country Championships at Quarry Lake Fremont, California on Oct. 21, 2023. (Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne / KLC fotos)

“There was a point where it was like, ‘Am I even gonna race?’ Yes, there was, but at that point, it was just a blur. I really wish I was able to extend how I felt but at that point, the only thing that was going through my mind was, ‘Was I able to race,’” Pioroda said. “That’s something that I was thinking of the entire week, even though my coaches would tell me, you’re gonna reach, you’re gonna be able to race.”

Even through the injury, Pioroda got through the race and placed 65th. With all the adversity throughout the week, she felt relief when she crossed the finish line.

Support and bonding time has helped the team face hardships.

“My favorite moment was when we all came over to my house, and we just wrote down our goals of racing and just inspiring things for each other,” Renfro said. “What to do if times get tough during the race, which they do obviously, if there’s a hill or something or you’re just not feeling it, what’s things that we could say and we kind of all worked it out as a team together.”

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About the Contributor
Arman Archouniani
Arman Archouniani, Sports Editor
Arman Archouniani (he/him) is the sports editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in media literacy. He was born and raised in Daly City and enjoys living in the area. As a kid, his dream was to become a professional athlete. Arman loves his local sports teams such as the Golden State Warriors, the San Francisco 49ers, and the San Francisco Giants. He was previously the sports editor for The Skyline View at Skyline College. His dream now is to become a sports analyst for a major sports media company.

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