Becoming elite: cross country team works for next-level status
The Southeast Missouri State women’s cross country team is ranked second in the Ohio Valley Conference, and the men are ranked seventh this season.
“The women have improved tremendously since last season,” coach Ryan Lane said. “They have done a great job bettering the program. The boys are quite younger. Sixty percent of the line up is freshmen and sophomores. We are working on maturing.”
The Redhawks have been preparing for the season since the summer months. In order to perform sufficiently at the meets they have five periods of training. Currently, the team is in the second period of the training and at the beginning of next week they will begin the third period. Period three is more aerobics work than strength training.
“Right now, practices are more strength training intense more than anything,” said junior Rachel Hutchcraft. “Practice is more competitive. We work to push one another harder. If we can finish a rep faster, then we push each other to do so.”
The goal for the women’s cross country team this year is to remain at the top of the conference and earn those first and second team titles the Ohio Valley Conference awards.
"I definitely have girls that I believe will earn those titles of first and second team this season,” Coach Lane said. “I think we are already an elite cross country team. We have beat Nebraska, Kansas City and other big schools. I think we have earned the right to be concerted elite.”
The men’s cross country team consists of younger athletes. The team members are currently working on building their mental toughness. The men have a goal to finish higher than seventh by the end of the season.
“Building up the younger guys is important to us,” said redshirt junior Tyler Beamen. “Practices are more intense, but we are working to finish top five. It will give next year a better starting position.”
Although the men's team is younger, Lane is confident he has four young men who are easily top 25 in the conference.
The Redhawks will be traveling to St. Louis Friday to compete at the Forest Park Cross Country Festival.