Coming back from summer vacation is hard enough for the average student, but for student athletes, the fall is promised to be a challenge.
Junior Tyler Awe, who is running his third year on the Men’s Cross Country team, understands from experience the trials that come with a new season.
“Coming back from the summer break, we are all in various spots in our training,” Awe said. “You get used to running in groups and enjoying conversation, so the summer full of silent running is a challenge for several of us.”
Sophomore Kenny Crane acknowledges that there are several factors that come into play when training for the season. “In all sports it is essential to eat right, sleep right, and hydrate, but because of the nature of our sport, it is pushed to the extreme,” Crane said. “Every bit counts when running a 5k or 8k.”
The team gained a new coach this year, Scott Schochler, whom Awe believes is serving as the teams’ greatest strength.
“Without hesitation, Coach Schochler stepped right in, made himself at home, and set expectations higher than ever,” Awe said. “He has already added crazy personality, raised team spirits, and brought us closer as a team.”
Awe also said that having a coach who supports community and fellowship on the team was very important in heightening the team’s dedication to the sport and each other.
Crane attributes Schochler’s success to the attitude he shows the team and the time he pours into the program. “He reinvigorated our view towards running as well as our philosophy for why we run.”
Awe can see the influence from Schochler’s training paying off.
“Our weekly mileage is at a high since I’ve been running here,” Awe said. “For the first time, my legs are completely dead. As a runner, you know that the worse you feel after a workout, the better the pay off in the future.”
The need for physical endurance required to run long distance is matched by the need for mental endurance. Both Awe and Crane agree that mental toughness comes in handy when your body wants to quit or on the day of competition.
According to Awe, the team is focusing heavily on interval workouts, which will help in future meets.
“We got out to the hills in Oklahoma and do hill repeats,” Awe said. “We usually go for time and repetition over distance in this case. We have a few meets with some killer hills in them, which is what separates the strong from the weak.”
Although the Cross Country team may not be as well known on campus as other sports, having fan support from students is beneficial to the runners.
“For someone who isn’t a runner and doesn’t understand cross country, we realize how boring a meet can be,” Awe said. “But when you’re in the back stretch, separated from the group with no one around cheering, mentally it’s rough.”
The team landed third place in their season opener on September 14th in Russellville, Arkansas, led by Senior Tekste Gebreslasse, who landed in the top-10 finish.
The team will run their next match this weekend Sept. 28 in Clarksville, Ark.