For both men’s and women’s cross country, this season is about focus and preparation. Both teams are returning a large number of runners, and the key will be to see if they can stay focused throughout the entire season.
“I’m excited about the season, we’re really I think keeping everybody very positive, [and] keeping those negative thoughts away are going to make a big difference,” said head coach Brit Townsend. “I think both squads are going to make it there, if we stay focused, healthy, and believe.”
One thing that has Townsend and the coaching staff excited is the commitment of the runners to training over the summer, for both men’s and women’s teams.
“It looked like people came into the camp a little more ready and prepared than they had in the past,” she explained. “I think we’re going to have some good opportunities this year.”
“We have to fight every time we get on the line, and we can’t take anything for granted.”
A major loss for the men’s team will be Cameron Proceviat. He was “consistently one of our top five guys,” according to Townsend, and will be a tough gap to fill on the team. One runner that will be expected to do that is Oliver Jorgensen, who has struggled with injuries early on this season.
“I’m hoping that by the time we get to the middle of our season, he’s going to be healthy and contributing,” said Townsend. “I’m hoping he’s running the following week. But he still won’t be where he should be because he’s had several months off. However, he’s a proven cross country runner. If we can get him healthy, he’ll be a big part of it.”
For the women’s side, it’s about focus and commitment. After winning the GNAC title in 2014, they finished a disappointing fourth last year, and will be looking to regain the title this upcoming season.
“I think part of it last year was we were a little bit complacent,” said Townsend. “I think the kids thought ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to get there, we always get there,’ and so I don’t think everyone was on.
“We weren’t 100 percent committed right from the beginning, that we had to fight as hard as everybody else to make it,” she continued. “So that’s what we are going to focus on this year. We have to fight every time we get on the line, and we can’t take anything for granted.”
Another key for both sides will be staying healthy, especially when balancing a travel-heavy schedule and regular schoolwork, a unique challenge for the team.
“This is a tough schedule for most of these kids. Most of them go all through cross country, all through indoors, all through outdoors, so there’s no downtime for them,” Townsend said. “They are constantly training, and obviously doing their schoolwork. We’re also travelling every weekend, so for them keeping healthy, making sure they don’t overdo it early in the season [and] taking care of injuries [will be important].”