TMC XCer Gonzalez is SSAC Freshman of the Year
by Norm Miller
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)--Truett-McConnell College student Luis Gonzalez is a record setter, record breaker and award winner. The freshman cross country runner's success this season earned him a spot on the Southern States Athletic Conference All Freshman Team and the honor of SSAC Freshman of the Year.
Gonzalez also earned an individual bid to run in the Nov. 17 NAIA National Championship in Vancouver, Wash., thus marking the first time in TMC's history that a runner will represent the college in that event.
"Freshman of the Year for the SSAC is by far the most prestigious award ever received by a runner at Truett-McConnell College," said Cross Country Coach Jarret Holland. "I'm very proud of Luis, and that he is a member of our TMC team."
Gonzalez placed 6th overall at the Nov. 3 SSAC Championship meet in Jackson, Miss., finishing the 8K race with a time of 26.27 -- the second fastest recorded time in TMC's history. He missed breaking the previous school record by 46 seconds. He set that record of 25:41 earlier this season at the Sand Shark Invitational in Hardeeville, S. Car. Both times better the previous school record of 26:59 that stood for six years.
Holland said Gonzalez is "by far the most talented runner I've ever had the privilege of coaching. He has an outstanding work ethic and the desire to better himself as a runner every day, as well as push those around him to better themselves in the same way."
"Coach is a good man, and he has taught me a lot more about myself than about running," Gonzalez told TMCNews. "He taught me how to be responsible and dependable, and not just for the sake of running. He told me the fastest runner is usually the team leader, but not because of his speed but how others look up to him.
"This really opened my eyes and made me want to better myself for the sake of my teammates," said Gonzalez, a biology major. "If I am a role model to my teammates, I hope they see a good one."
Holland said he has "enjoyed watching Luis develop into a leader over the course of the year. I'm excited to see what he'll be capable of doing next season as the team continues to get stronger and healthier around him."
Though Truett-McConnell wasn't Gonzalez' first choice for college, he enrolled because "Truett-McConnell is a Baptist college, and I support what it stands for," said the member of First Baptist Church, Gainesville.
"Before anything else, whether athletics or academics, the leaders here want to help me with my walk with Christ. And that's something I want to do," Gonzalez said. "I want to strengthen and keep strong my relationship with Jesus Christ because he turned my life for the better."
TMC's cross country team concludes it season Nov. 10 at the National Christian College Athletic Association championships in Cedarville, Ohio.