The cross-country team is dutifully preparing for their upcoming season. Head coach Scott Schochler has high expectations for both the men’s and the women’s teams this year.
Schochler said he believes that the men’s team could qualify for nationals this season.
“I’m going to put it out there, I honestly think they got a legitimate shot to get to nationals which would be the first time since the early 70s that a team from JBU has made it to nationals in cross country,” Schochler said.
Jacob Synek, a junior runner, agreed.
“If we can place top three in our conference and be voted in the top 25, that would put us in good contention to go to nationals,” Synek said. “I would say focus on conference is our biggest goal because if we can place then we have a good shot at going to nationals.”
Carly Coney, junior, hopes the women’s team has the same chance at nationals.
“We trained well last semester, but once we got to conference, we didn’t perform very well, and I know that was a disappointment,” Coney said. “We want to see us excel and perform at the level of which we are training.”
Schochler has similar hopes.
“I’m expecting them to be much more competitive and faster than they were last year. We seem to have a mix of girls who want to race a little bit more this year,” Schochler said. “That is fun to see.”
To ensure they run well at the meets, Schochler holds his team to specific regiments to enhance their performance and to keep their bodies healthy.
“They’ve got to train hard and train all the time,” Schochler said. “But they’ve also got to make sure they are taking care of the body with eating enough, making sure they are doing some workouts outside of [practice] workouts to keep flexibility and prevent injuries.”
This year, the cross-country team welcomed seven new runners,.
Josh Uzelac, junior, believes the new members settled in well on both teams.
“Having the new freshman class is really exciting because we have some really good competitors coming in that will benefit the team in many ways, both performance-wise and also just the character of the team,” Uzelac said. “They are contributing well to the culture of the team.”
Ben Martin, freshman, said he enjoys being part of the team and is excited and ready to contribute.
“It’s a really fun group of guys,” Martin said. “They definitely have a really funny side, they know when to have a good time, when to laugh, but also they are very hard working and encouraging to one another.”
Sarah Larson, freshman, described her teammates as fun-loving and crazy, but intentional in relationships.
with getting to know each other and creating a community.” “We are not here just to run, but to build relationships,” Larson said.
The first meet will take place on Sept. 16 in Joplin, MO, at Missouri Southern State University. The second will be the annual Chili Pepper race in Fayetteville, AR. Schochler encouraged the JBU community to support their cross-country friends.
Zeke Wilcox – Opinion Editor