Sept. 6, 2013
Expectations High as Cross Country Opens 2013By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri State’s Bearcat Open on Friday is the perfect test for senior Jake Henry and sophomore Maci Hicks to find out how much their summer running prepared them for the upcoming men’s and women’s cross country season.
Henry, the only senior on the men’s team, is one of the leaders of the team. He got up to 75 miles of road work during the summer months.
“It was a much nicer summer than we are used to,” Henry said. “You actually got a chance to run in the middle of the day instead of normal summers, sometimes you are up 5 a.m. to get the running in.”
The Bearcat Open has traditionally been used to see where the runners are at and what needs worked on for the rest of the season.
The pressure-filled meets come later.
“The first meet on Friday, we don’t have any significant teams from our conference coming,” Henry said. “The teams that are coming are smaller schools, which is Ok. We have won it every year we had our own meet. We are looking to get out and see where the guys are at on this course. It is a nice, hard course so it will be able show where we are at and how summer paid off.
“The men’s team actually has a lot of leadership. We have a huge junior class and those guys are going to have a good year next year.”
Because of a talented junior class, Northwest coach Scott Lorek has high expectation for the season.
“The good thing about our men’s team is we have a group of very motivated returners and the freshmen get to follow along with great leadership from the group,” Lorek said. “I think we are in great position in that aspect in our men’s team.”
Lorek expects surprises on the women’s side because there are more unknowns. The team returns seniors Taylor Woodruff and Amanda Cushing.
Hicks could be one of the surprises. Last year she suffered a foot injury and was unable to train much during the summer.
In addition, she was heading into her first season in cross country. In high school during the fall, she played volleyball.
“It was difficult last fall because I really love volleyball,” Hicks said. “I knew that running cross country would improve my track times and it definitely did. I’m excited to see how much my times will drop by running year round.”
Even with the injury and running in her first-ever cross country meet, Hicks still placed third in the Bearcat Open last year.
The foot problem, though, prevented her from running later in the season and she missed the indoor track season.
“She had kind of a frustrating year,” Lorek said. “She had a great outdoor season and ran a P.R. in the mile by 10 seconds from high school and she was pretty good in high school. This year I think she had a good summer of training and she is coming in with a good group.
“Cross country is still new to her. She is a key runner for us. Her collegiate career will be something special.”
Like Henry, Hicks wants to see the pay off from running on a regular basis in the summer.
“It is always exciting to get the first meet going and really kick off your season,” Hicks said. “It means a lot to have it at home because you will have a lot of support, parents and Bearcat fans can come and watch.”
Henry is expecting a good season from the men.
“I think we will do just as good as we have in the past,” he said. “We did lose a good runner in Ryan Darling. Even with him gone, I think we will have a stronger team this year, do well in conference, and place in the top three.
The Bearcat Open is the start of that journey.
“The first meet is always a rush,” Henry said. “You have the full summer, three months of training really hard without racing anyone. The first meet you can really see how much the summer training paid off.”
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