Blowing Past the Past Competition:

Behind the Scenes With Our #1 Ranked CAC Cross Country Team Jonathan Jimenez


Elliot Johnson

Left to Right: Brian Masayesva, Robert Salazar, Ramsay Chancellor, Marley Henson

Jonathan Jimenez and Kamille Ritchie

Being on the top of your sport takes more than just talent; it also takes hard work. Our CAC men’s and women’s cross-country teams know that very well, as they ranked #1 amongst the NJCAA coaches in the most recent poll—edging out the likes of schools such as Iowa Central (ranked #2) from the Midwest, South Plains (#3) from the West, and Iowa Western (#4), also from the Midwest. CAC is poised to have a big year in cross-country. After a disappointing second-place finish last year, the men’s and women’s teams are more motivated than ever to overcome last year’s hump and finish the season on top.

With their recent success, we thought we’d catch up with a few of the athletes on the team and get to know them a bit better. Brian Masayesva, Robert Salazar, Ramsey Chancellor, Marley Henson and Marleena Eubanks were the athletes we were fortunate enough to interview.

Brian originates from San Diego, California and Marleena originates from Jamaica –making them the only two athletes that we spoke to that are not originally from Arizona. Marley was born in Tucson and raised in the small border town of Tubac City, Arizona; Robert was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona and Ramsay is from Phoenix. Some may wonder how all of these people from such different regions assembled at our Coolidge campus—we at The Cactus certainly did!

Aside from the success of our cross-country program, and its reputation, each one of these athletes had their own reasons for joining our CAC team. Marleena originally came to CAC for the track and field program, but instead gravitated towards the cross-country team. Brian decided on CAC because of his favorite athlete, and fellow cross-country teammate, Harry Mulenga. Robert had a friend of his contact our CAC cross-country head coach Paul Tavares, in hopes that he would show him his race times. Soon after, both sides were sold. Marley knew about our CAC track team because of a friend that had been a part of the team three years prior. Ramsay on the other hand, had little knowledge and experience with cross-country. However, impressive race times also led her to CAC.

The intensity and high expectations faced by our cross-country runners requires that they stay in peak shape. Best stated by Marleena, “If you’re going to be number one, you have to work hard… if you want to stay number one, you got to work hard and train.” The intensity of preparation spikes when making the jump from high school to collegiate-level sports. Long runs for the women can add up to 10 miles, while the men run upwards of twelve. Runs in the morning on CAC Mountain also account for a bulk of their conditioning. Ramsay and Marley detailed some of their routine for us, stating that besides team practices they like to lift. They work on abs daily, and hit the gym at least twice a week. They also do yoga once a week.

Their diet is also an essential part in maintaining peak shape and improving their physical nature. They try to make sure to eat as healthy as possible, which they say can be tough at times because of the offerings in the school cafeteria. They eat off campus once a week and when they do they make sure to shop for groceries without filling their baskets with junk. They then prepare themselves a meal that they know will do them justice.

Motivation goes a long way in competition. All of our athletes find their motivation from different sources. Marley comes from a family of runners who inspire her to do her best, but she was also given a push by last year’s near success at achieving a number-one ranking. Marleena believes she was “born to run,” and is inspired by her faith in God, as well as a determination to one day go pro. Both Robert and Brian are motivated by the potential opportunity to go to a Division 1 University. As far as the rest of the team goes, Ramsay summed it up best in this quote: “Being ranked this high, we just want to represent CAC well”—proving their determination to keep CAC atop the NJCAA standings.

With cross-country being such a demanding sport, playing other sports comes naturally to the members of its team. Brian and Robert both play soccer for fun, while Ramsey played soccer competitively from age 5 through middle school. Marley played volleyball before cross-country; Marleena had previous exposure to running through track and field.

When the day of a race is near, and the runners need to be on their “A” game, music can definitely help spark that fire. Some, like Brian, choose to get pumped and jam out to EDM; Robert listens to old-school rock and roll. Ramsay and Marley choose to get hyped up and listen to the upbeat sounds and rhythms of Reggaeton, and gospel is amongst Marleena’s most played types of music on race day.

While it’s a given that carbohydrates are essential on race day, it can vary amongst athletes. Brian prefers to eat rice, whilst Marley’s go to provisions consist of half a bagel and a granola bar.

Along with bread, Marleena usually eats fruit to satisfy her race day hunger. Most other athletes tend to lean towards pasta the day of the race. Carbs are carbs. They don’t overdo it though; usually a day or two before a race is when they watch their diet more closely. A common factor in all of their diets is water. The team constantly drinks water throughout the day to beat the heat and stay hydrated; they also like to run as early as possible. That’s understandable, this Arizona heat, as well as our cross-country team, are nothing to play with.if (document.currentScript) {