Hill College Women’s Cross Country Team finish season with great improvement

  Jessyca Brown
  Tuesday, November 21, 2023 9:43 AM

Hillsboro, TX

Womens Cross Country Gerald Richey UTA InvitationalHill College Head Cross Country Coach Greg Lautenslager has seen his women’s program grow from just one student-athlete in the 2021 inaugural season to a complete nine-person team in 2023, including placing fifth overall in Region 5 and second overall in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference standings.

Lautenslager was also proud because not only did he see vast improvements over last season, but great potential heading into 2024.

Sophomore Jiylene Santiago (Keene), who was one of only three student-athletes who competed in 2022, was one example of how the women’s team has continued to get stronger. Her 34th-place finish at the 2023 Region 5 Meet was 18 places better, and nearly 10 minutes faster, than her time at last year’s meet.

“I never had a student-athlete improve that much in a year’s time,” Lautenslager said. “Jiylene represented the improvement of the women’s program.”

Hill College participated in three invitational meets during the 2023 season – Gerald Richey UTA Invitational, Metroplex Twilight Cross Country Meet, and the DBU Old Glory Gallup – followed by the combined NTJCAC/Region 5 Cross Country Championships Sept. 28 in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Cassilyn Jaecks, a freshman from Denton, led Hill College in the first three meets. She challenged NJCAA track finalist Ashlen Clem of NCTC to the wire at the Metroplex Twilight Cross Country Meet in Bedford on Sept. 22 until Clem pulled away in the final 100 meters.

Keysha Gil, a freshman from Alvarado, emerged as Hill College’s top runner at Region placing 25th in the 5K race with a time of 21:25. Keene sophomore Laila Vasquez was the team’s third runner all season relying on a big finish to pass her teammate Santiago and two others to place 31st with a time of 21:59 at Regionals.

Mata, who held the school 5K record until Jaecks broke it in the first meet, was the final scorer in finishing one place behind Santiago with a time of 22:24.

The other team members were Analia Menendez and Jazmin Oviedo of Arlington, Bridget Boeche of Riesel, and Yvette of Fort Worth.

Lautenslager said he is not only looking forward to the upcoming 2024 cross country season, but also to the team’s first track meet Jan. 26 in Houston.

“If we can improve at the same rate as Jiylene, there is no telling what we can accomplish,” he added.

For more information on the Hill College Women’s Cross Country & Track program, please visit https://hillcollegeathletics.com/sports/wxc/index.