Celeste Arteaga’s Drake cross country career is only one month underway, but the freshman already boasts a collegiate title.
Arteaga won the Grand View Invitational on Friday at Ewing Park in Des Moines, pacing the Bulldogs’ 39-point victory over Mount Mercy.
Friday’s win surprised Arteaga, who claimed her first collegiate title in a time of 19:08.
“I wasn’t expecting to even get first place, but it happened,” Arteaga said. “I wanted a PR (personal record) in my first 5K of the season, and luckily, I got first. It was a really good day for me.”
Four seconds later, junior Amanda Marwitz crossed the finish line for second place. Freshman Emma Hutson completed Drake’s top three with a time of 19:26.
The Bulldogs won Friday’s meet with 17 points. Runner-up Mount Mercy tallied 56 points, and host Grand View claimed third place with 86 points.
Arteaga’s Drake cross country resume already features a meet win, but she’s looking to repeat Friday’s performance at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday in Minneapolis, Minn.
“There’s more room for improvement and getting better,” Arteaga said. “Hopefully, I can place higher in the bigger meets like (Roy) Griak (Invitational). I know (there are) a lot of girls there, and I’m hoping to be up there with my other teammates, running alongside them. It really makes me look forward to the next couple of years here, and I’m really excited to be running here at Drake and being a Bulldog is fun.”
While the Roy Griak Invitational’s deep field poses a challenge for Drake, Arteaga’s teammates ease her pre-meet jitters.
“I always look forward to practice,” Arteaga said. “It’s my favorite part of the day, just going to run with them. We always go and get dinner at Hubbell (Dining Hall) here at Drake, and we feel like family. I really like the family feeling of the team.”
In men’s cross country action, senior Mike Rodriguez won Friday’s Grand View Invitational, pacing the Bulldogs’ 45-point win over Central.
Rodriguez clocked at 26:12, edging junior Ryan Flynn for the title. Flynn finished four seconds behind Rodriguez, good for second place.
Junior Guy Eckman completed the Bulldogs’ top three with a time of 26:25.
The Grand View Invitational offered several perks for Rodriguez and the Bulldogs. Besides familiar scenery, Friday’s meet offered familiar faces.
“A lot of the girls’ soccer team and the women’s crew team came out to support us, so that was really awesome,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez and the Bulldogs look to build on Friday’s strong performance at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday.
“The Roy Griak (Invitational) this weekend is the first semi-important meet for us, so we’re really looking to set a benchmark,” Rodriguez said. “Something everybody is really looking forward to is comparing how their fitness was last year compared to these meets this year. It’s a benchmark to see where we’re at and how we’re progressing.”
With progress in mind, winning the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship tops Drake’s to-do list.
“The conference meet is still a little over a month out, and that’s definitely our primary focus for the rest of the season,” Rodriguez said. “We think we can do really well this year and possibly have a chance to win it if we have all cylinders going that day.”