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Thursday, July 07, 2022 — Houston, TX

The Fifth Lap

By Gabe Cuadra     4/4/12 7:00pm

"When you're a fifth-year senior in the last-chance saloon, how can you not check every day?"

I read that quote the summer before I came to Rice University. In it, renowned University of Colorado cross country coach Mark Wetmore reflects on how one of his fifth-years allowed himself to become overweight while nursing an injury.

Now, four years later, I'm starting my own year in the last-chance saloon on the Rice cross country and track team squarely in the face. And while I have some time sitting in this saloon, the Thresher has extended to me the opportunity to write as its weekly sports columnist.

My relationship with sports is, to say the least, complicated. I'm an athlete and a fan. I'm a fanatic and yet woefully ignorant to rosters and statistics. I spend far too much time on espn.com, but haven't entered a fantasy sports league since freshman year.

For me, sport isn't life. But it's not just a game, either. It's art. It's entertainment. It's business. It's a metaphor for life. It's an escape from life. It's where I learned many of my most important values. And it's where I learned some of life's toughest lessons. It's where I made some of my most important connections, found my mentors and met some of my closest friends.

And, from a columnist's perspective, sport is a medium through which to communicate. It's a common language. It's the perfect, if sometimes frustrating, prompt-writer that challenges us to look at the world in new ways, to re-examine things we have always taken for granted.

Sports in the context of Rice is special, too. Beyond the classic benefits of having a Division I athletics program, like providing entertainment, connecting with fans and alumni, and spreading Rice's name, athletics provide an outlet for another facet of our community to share its passion. Just like the Shepherd School students share their passion for music, college presidents share their passion for their colleges, your friend shares her passion for her lab work or your club leader shares his passion for the work of your club, our student-athletes share their passion for athletics by putting on the Rice jersey and competing for this school against the best in the nation.

The experience of supporting Rice athletics isn't like supporting athletics at The University of Texas or the University of Alabama. We're not Duke University, or the University of Kentucky, or the University of Southern California, with all the positive and negative connotations they come with. But the fact that we send our athletes to compete against them says something about our university. And the fact that we've had success speaks even higher volumes. Just right now, we have a top-10 baseball team, nationally ranked tennis teams, and numerous track and field athletes poised to make the first round of nationals.

Over my time as Thresher sports columnist, I'll write about a range of different things. Some will be directly about Rice and its athletics. Others may be issues in which Rice is only indirectly intertwined, while still others may have nothing to do with Rice, but rather with the sporting experience as a whole.

Some columns I hope you'll find profound. Others, no doubt , will be more superficial, with the goal of being entertaining nonetheless. All, hopefully, will be at some level thought-provoking.

In the meantime, I need to go buy a scale. When you're in the last-chance saloon, how can you not check every day?

Gabe Cuadra is a senior at Will Rice College

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Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.

SPORTS 5/22/22 10:09pm
Men's team takes third, women's takes fifth at C-USA T&F championships

The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.


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