Two-a-days are usually reserved for the grueling practices of preseason, but for Auburn Jimenez ’14 (East Los Angeles, Calif.) the most important double came on a crisp November day as he first led the Scots in the MIAC Conference Cross Country Championships and then kicked three field goals as Macalester Football topped Trinity Bible 44-13.
Last Saturday, Nov. 2, Jimenez placed 30th out of 230 runners, running the 8 kilometer course at St. Paul’s Como Park Golf Course in 26:40. Along with teammate Joe Giamberdino (St. Charles, Ill.), who finished 32nd, the two guided the Scots to a sixth place conference finish, moving up two spots from last season. In the home football game less than three hours later, Jimenez made 3 of 4 field goals attempted, including a season long 41-yarder, and converted on all four extra points.
Described by teammates and coaches as a “team guy” with quiet confidence and a serious competitive streak, Jimenez has made a significant impact with his play for both teams.
“He might look a little more like a runner than a typical football player, but he’s got a lot of power, and really good technique,” said football teammate Joe Dykema ’14 (Roseville, Minn.).
Before Jimenez’s arrival at Macalester, kicking and punting were not strengths for the Scots, but he has changed that.
“It’s been huge,” Dykema said. “He won the Crown game (freshman year) for us with a last second field goal.”
This season Jimenez has yet to miss an extra point try and has made over 70 percent of the field goals he has attempted.
Competing in two sports in one day is rare, but not unprecedented in Macalester sports history. The last athlete to complete such a two-a-day was diver and runner Bo Rydze in 2005. Jimenez also completed a double earlier this season, on Sept. 7, when he ran at the Crown Invite and then later played with the football team at Crown.
“That was kind of a test run for this, to see if it could be done — kicking at night after racing that morning,” men’s cross country coach Matt Haugen said.
Jimenez picked up both sports in high school, but was only planning on playing football for the Scots.
“He wasn’t sure he was going to run when he showed up four years ago,” Haugen said. “I met with him and we looked at the schedule.”
The two worked to find bye weekends and November races that wouldn’t conflict with Jimenez’s football schedule. Freshman year was the only other time Jimenez was able to run at the MIAC Championships.
“I like MIAC the best because thats when everyone is in it, it’s in the Twin Cities, it’s the one you rest your hat on,” Haugen said. “We weren’t even sure he was gonna race it for much of the season, but I kept telling him that he could make a big difference for us.”
Finding time to train for two varsity sports is undeniably a challenge. For the past few weeks Jimenez had been running in the mornings with Giamberdino to accommodate for his afternoon football practices.
“It’s been tough to find time during the day to train, but in the end it’s fun,” he said. “And, it’s good to be able to go out there and race with the rest of the team, even if it’s only a few times a year.”
Racing only three times this season, Jimenez said he felt significantly less pressure than his first-year, when the MIAC Championships were his first collegiate race. “I just wanted to go out and help lower the team time,” he said.
Haugen was hoping for a special day from him, knowing that he had been training well and that this would be his last cross country race for the Scots.
The race started off well for Jimenez as he was able to settle into a pack that included Giamberdino, the team’s front runner throughout the season. With a mile to go, Jimenez kicked into another gear to run down Giamberdino just before the finish.
“It was better than I thought it would be,” Jimenez said. “Usually you’re just trying to get through it because it hurts, whereas [at MIAC] I got to the three mile mark and was feeling like I still had a lot of energy left in my legs. I thought, ‘Let’s see what I can do.’”
The next two weekends, Jimenez will be out kicking for the football team as they take on Augsburg and Hamline to close out the season. Although he will not race at the regional cross country meet, he is already looking ahead to the spring track and field season, where he hopes to break 15 minutes in the 5K.
Jimenez isn’t planning on any more doubles in the near future, but Haugen was quick to acknowledge the rare milestone. “Two big kicks in the same day, that’s pretty special,” Haugen said.