Though the men’s cross country team has only competed in one race so far, first-year runner Tristan Santos is already making a name for himself. In addition to placing 3rd out of all Tigers in a race against Pomona-Pitzer on Sept. 1, Santos has also broken the Occidental preseason time trial record.
Although Santos is enjoying the Southern California weather, he attributed his early success to his training back home in Boulder, Colorado.
“I worked hard all summer long, sticking to [head coach Rob Bartlett’s] workout plans every day, but what really prepared me for this level was training in higher altitude,” Santos said. “The transition from running in Boulder to running at sea level here in LA really gives me an advantage over my opponents.”
Santos has been running cross country since high school, achieving the Most Outstanding Athlete Award and earning All-Conference recognition during his senior year. Despite his individual accolades, Santos said he is eager to learn as much as possible from his teammates and coaches.
With a strong sense of camaraderie already developing between upperclassmen and underclassmen, the Tigers are primed for success moving forward.
Injuries are devastating to any athlete, but first-year cross country runner Roxanne Valle never let them deter her. Despite dealing with numerous ailments throughout her high school career, Valle still managed to achieve sustained success while running at Azusa High School. She even earned a plethora of athletic and academic awards over the course of her high school career.
“My high school years were good but also bumpy because of all the setbacks,” Valle said. “Now that I’m here at Oxy, I’m extremely determined to go out there and just compete again.”
Beneath her quiet and reserved exterior, Valle admitted that she was fairly nervous before her first college race at Pomona-Pitzer.
“I was feeling pretty anxious leading up to the race,” Valle said. “I just told myself to run smart and do as best you can.”
After shaking off the nerves, Valle would go on to perform exceptionally well in the race, coming in a close second behind the defending Division III West Regional Champion Maya Weigel of Pomona-Pitzer. Valle said she is humbled by finishing so close to an established SCIAC opponent and that it encourages her to build off of what she has started so far.
The women’s cross country team placed well in the race against Pomona-Pitzer and Valle said they are looking to improve upon their performance in upcoming matches.
As one of the few starting first-years on the women’s soccer team, midfielder Nicole Castro seems to be picking up on the ways of college soccer quickly.
“I have already increased my knowledge of the game and the older players really help with that,” Castro said. “Coach Colm is also a great coach, and the other assistant coaches have been very supportive so far.”
Hailing from Mill Creek, Washington, Castro has started in all four games for the Tigers so far this season and said she has high hopes for the team in the coming months.
“Ultimately, we want to win against all SCIAC teams, go on to the playoffs and then do well when we’re there,” Castro said.
With only two senior and two juniors on the team this year, Castro seems ready to take advantage of the opportunity for playing time.
Aside from playing stellar defense on the field, Castro wants to be active in the community, specifically through service.
“Helping those in need and empathizing with others will make me a better person overall,” she said.
Liam Walsh is not the average soccer player. The first-year from Washington, D.C. plays multiple positions and provides athleticism on the field. He started in seven out of eight games for the Tigers so far this season and notched his first career goal in a match against Pomona-Pitzer Sept. 12th.
Walsh attended Woodrow Wilson High School and was a member of the D.C. State Athletic Association First Team. Having played primarily center midfielder his entire career, he was asked to switch to right back this season.
“I’ve actually never played defense before,” Walsh said. “I had the opportunity for more playing time at right back and, honestly, I wanted to do whatever I had to do in order to play.”
Walsh cites the unity of the team as something that will be vital to how well they do this season.
“The team chemistry is amazing, we are truly a family and we know that,” Walsh said. “We’ve been able to out will some opponents early on simply because we maintain positivity and we work together.”
The formula seems to be working for the Tigers, as they have rattled off six wins in eight games. The squad will travel to Caltech Sept. 26.