Oct. 21, 2011
Cross Country optimistic heading into MIAA Championships
A year ago, Northwest Missouri State men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed third at the MIAA Championships. It was a solid performance.
This year the Bearcats have the potential to do better.
While a few injuries on both teams have hampered the Bearcats in a few meets, Northwest heads into Saturday’s MIAA Championships in Joplin, Mo., optimistic.
“I think we are a good enough team that we can challenge the best people,” Northwest coach Scott Lorek said. “It’s just a matter of can we put it all together, be healthy and be on that day like everyone has to think those same things.
“This is the first year we can actually think we are in there.”
So what has coach Lorek so excited about the most important meet so far this season for his Bearcats?
Well, on the women’s side, it starts with senior Angela Adams and junior Katti Carrol. They both have the capability to finish in the top five, which helps immensely in the team scoring.
But just as important is the running of juniors Heidi Johnson and Jordan Esry. They are capable of placing in the top 15 or not far from it.
If all four runners perform up to what they have shown this season, the Bearcats will be in the hunt to top last year’s third place finish.
“On the women’s side, just ability wise, it is probably the best group I’ve ever had,” Lorek said.
Over the last two seasons, senior TR Pursell has consistently been the Bearcats top runner on the men’s side. He is having another fine season this year, placing third in Northwest’s last meet on Oct. 8.
As good as Pursell has been this season, the aspect that Lorek likes most about the men’s team is the way the runners help each other out.
In the last meet, the Jackling Jocks Invitational, senior Zach Layton took seventh and junior Ryan Darling placed ninth, freshman Drew Keefer took 13th and sophomore Jake Henry finished 14th. Their performance helped the Bearcats take second behind Missouri Southern.
“On the men’s side, it is a situation where it is a great group of guys who gel well together and they can push each other really well,” Lorek said.
“We know they are conscientious of their training together and their accountability to each other. And that has been a big thing for us. They are very much a team.”
The one advantage Missouri Southern has is its runners know the course very well. Northwest has not run on this course this year.
“We’ve been there in the past,” Lorek said. “The course is a little bit different but we are generally familiar with it. It is a good course. It is one of the faster courses we have been on. It is a course that works for us.”
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