In two days, John Brown University’s cross country team will do what they have worked for all season.
The Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) cross country championship will take place this Saturday in Shawnee, Okla. The Golden Eagles hope the championship will allow them to place in the top three for their conference. Placing in the top three would give the teams the chance to advance to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) cross country national championship in North Carolina.
“We’ve been putting on a lot of miles,” Kenny Crane, senior, said about the team’s preparation for the conference championship.
“Last week, we ran 15 miles each day. So I think building that base is what has been the most influential in getting us prepared for conference.”
The men’s and women’s teams have to defeat formidable opponents at the championship if they wish to place. For the men’s team, two of those opponents are Oklahoma City University and Wayland Baptist University.
“(Oklahoma City University) is the twotime defending national champion,” junior runner, Kent McDonell, said. “They’ll be at our conference meet, along with Wayland Baptist, which has one of the fastest guys in the country.”
For the women’s team, the opponents are found in Southwest Baptist University and Oklahoma Baptist University. In spite of being tough opponents in the past, the Golden Eagles are hopeful about facing them on Saturday.
“Lately, we’ve been competitors with them,” sophomore, Abigail Danley, said. “In the last few meets, we have had a lot better times. Our times have decreased by a lot… I think we’re gonna be competitors, and at conference, since we’ve raced against them, we’re gonna be able to pick out their jerseys and chase them down.”
One way the team has been able to compete effectively this season is through what freshman runner, Josh Uzelac, has described as a “pack mentality”—that is, the members of the team tend to run close together in the races. Uzelac, who has the fastest time of anyone on the men’s team, expressed his confidence in the method.
“So far this year, we’ve been able to move forward faster together as a crew,” he said. “Going into conference, we’re able to use that mentality… and be able to place really high.”
The teams are not only confident in their methods, but also trust in each other. Danley said they are all ready to give everything to get to nationals.
“We’re all pretty confident,” she said. “This is our last race of the season, so we’re all prepared to give whatever we have left. Nothing is being held back.”
Overall, the teams are excited to compete and capitalize on the hard work they have put forth all season.
“We’ve worked really, really hard,” Danley said. “I’m really proud of all of them, and I think we’re all really prepared to give everything we have.”