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Estrella Mountain's Passion for Cross-Country

By Kelley MacDonald
EMCC Cross-Country Teams

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) is home to a driven athletic program. It includes the Women’s Cross-Country team, which requires its members to be dedicated. The team is part of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference as well as the Region 1 of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

The Cross-Country team began in August of 2010 and has been successful ever since. This team offers students an opportunity to train and compete in long-distance running at EMCC.

Five young women currently make up the Women’s Cross-Country team. The team’s practices are strenuous, requiring the women to arrive on time at 6am most days of the week. The team also has a meet once a week during its season.

“I've been running cross-country for 10 years. It's been one of the best experiences of my life. I didn't run competitively for four years while I served in the military, but I came back to Estrella this semester,” says Jessica Bridgeman, an athlete on the Women’s Cross-Country team. “Cross-country is what brought me to this school. It has a great program and a great team.”

Academic success is a large part of the athletic program. The team members must keep their grades to a minimum of a 3.40 GPA to participate in cross-country. “All the girls do outstanding academically. They are all Academic All-Americans at EMCC,” says Athletics Director Hershel Jackson, looking proud of the young women he represents.

The Coach of the team is Carl Tichenor, who motivates his runners to push themselves to their limits. “[Tichenor] is very passionate about it and his dedication to the cross-country team makes him one of the best coaches I have ever known,” said team captain Terry Arias.

Tichenor came to EMCC in 2009 after serving as Head Coach for Men and Women’s Track & Field at Phoenix College from 2007 to 2008. His Phoenix College Men’s team finished 18th at the National Junior College Athletic Association indoor national meet. In Tichenor’s time at Phoenix College, eight of his runners met or exceeded national qualifying standards in nine events.

Tichenor also has had years of experience as a Head Coach for Boys and Girls Cross-Country at Phoenix Christian High School from 2000 to 2005, Long Island Lutheran High School in New York, and Southfield Christian High School in Michigan. “He’s a great guy. The school couldn’t have gotten a better guy to coach the cross-country team,” says Jackson. “He came in July and by August he already had a team formed and competing. Doing that normally takes a year.”

The team is always willing to welcome new runners... if they have what it takes. Interest Forms are available at www.estrellamountain.edu/students/athletics/.