Rogue Athletic Club’s women return to Club Cross to defend their 2011 title.
by The Trailer
AUSTIN, Tex. – The Rogue Athletic Club women came into the 2011 Club Cross Country Championships—their first time ever at the meet—with a plan. That plan immediately went to crap when their first girl fell at the starting line.
“She was the girl who was supposed to lead the team out,” says RAC head coach Steve Sisson. “She went right down on her face, laid there, and the entire field fell overtop of her.
“At that moment, based on my experience, I was like, ‘Well, we’re dead.’”
It was an inauspicious start that would somehow develop into an RAC route over the field. Their top five women ended with a first-to-fifth spread of three seconds at the end of the 6K course, finishing 12-13-14-17-18. The final score was 74-103 over Boulder Running Company.
What took place between the start and finish is something that Sisson still remembers fondly. Left without their lead, “They used each other in a way that we hadn’t even prepped for.”
Their marathoner—a late addition to the team since she’d raced a half marathon the week before—ran out of her mind to finish as their second. The girl he thought would be their number four closed well and became their number one. And their fallen runner, who by the time she got back to her feet Sisson says was DFL, would claw her way back to his team third and 20th overall.
But what that Club Cross win did for his team is something Sisson says he’s still seeing the effects of: “That really galvanized those girls and made them realize, wow, we need each other. That win and the way that they did it truly catapulted a team dynamic that I could never have hoped to create on my own.”
On Saturday, December 2, in Lexington, Ky., RAC returns to the 2012 Club Cross Championships to defend their title. But while they have the same desire as last year, their team is drastically different. Three of RAC’s top five are no longer with the club, and Sisson says he can’t tell with any certainty who his top woman will be—one of three, he says.
But there is one of those three who, whether she is the top or not, the other women look to.
Juliane Masciana is the type of girl who brings the booze. A 2009 Cal State Fullerton grad with a 9:59 steeple best, she joined RAC in October of 2011 and promptly got injured. With two weeks of training, Sisson says she “demanded” to go to Club Cross.
On the train ride to the meet, he remembers seeing a bottle of champagne smuggled in Masciana’s bag.
“I showed it to all the girls,” Masciana says, “and they said, ‘Well, now we have to win.”
“That epitomizes Juliane,” Sisson says. “She brings a confidence and a leadership style that’s not going to demand anything but has an expectation.”
Masciana says that on Saturday RAC will win, just like she predicted last year. And it’s not as cocky as you think.
“I feel like sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we’re doing and everyday life that we forget the fact that we are really talented and we came here to run, and we sacrificed a lot to run, and we need to just be confident in that,” she says. “In our minds there’s no reason why we shouldn’t win.”
RAC will square off again with Boulder Running Company’s squad, as well a stacked team from Team USA Minnesota led by 4:12 1,500m girl Heather Kampf. If they do win, it will require the same luck they had last year. But even then, Masciana’s not worried.
“This is more of a fun thing,” she says. “If we win, we win; if we don’t, we don’t. This is a speed bump on the road to bigger and better things.”
Juliane Masciana took these pretty pictures and more you can see here. She will be taking pictures throughout the weekend to post on the Rogue Athletic Club blog. Whet your appetite with her photostory from 2011.