Cross country prepares for OVC Championships
At 7 a.m. Wednesday, members of the Southeast cross country team come back one-by-one into the track field house after a run in less than 40-degree weather. As the sun starts to rise, Coach Ryan Lane lightens the environment by cracking jokes about the broken scale, time trial results and new T-shirts while runners roll out sore calves and hip muscles. The team is preparing for the Ohio Valley Conference Championships at Eastern Illinois University, on Saturday, Oct. 28.
“The women’s team took second last year, they have an opportunity to be second again this year,” Lane said. “For men, we think seventh is obtainable. We are redshirting our No. 1 guy so we are missing some major components.”
Junior Kaitlyn Shea and sophomore Curtis Reed led the team at the Bradley Pink Classic on Oct. 13 at Bradley University. Shea was 25th with a time of 21:37.6 while Reed was 76th with a 26:02.7.
“[The women’s team is] running together, talking about our goals, encouraging each other,” Shea said.
“[The men’s team is] a little bit more excited about this race,” Reed said.
Lane said the OVC Championships is different from the other races because of its size. He said there’s normally about 400 runners in a race, while this weekend there’s only 12 teams with 10 runners competing.
“[The women] beat Belmont once this year, they’ve beaten us once this year, so it’s a toss up, whoever shows up and runs better so we are hoping for second,” Lane said.
According to Lane, Eastern Kentucky is the team most likely to win first. In the past 17 years, they have lost the OVC Championships only twice. So for the girls team, it will be a matchup between Belmont and Southeast for second and third places.
“We know it’s going to take every single person, so it’s not just one person stands out,” Shea said. “Everyone is going to have to have their best day in order to achieve our goals.”
The team has run the course before at the Walt Crawford Open at EIU on Sept. 1. Reed was 18th with a time of 26:31.33, and Shea won the women’s race with a time of 17:48.90.
“It’s really flat, so that’s a good thing, there are no hills,” Reed said. “There’s a gravel pathway, so it will be a little bit better footing, we could all go a little faster.”
Even with a familiar course and a smaller amount of competitors, Lane has taken what the struggles have been throughout the season and has made those the focus of improvement for the race. Lane said the women’s team needs to be more aggressive at the start of the race, especially in the first mile. For the men’s team, it’s about continually getting better at racing for five miles.
“You have to focus a little bit more about where you’re at and who you’re racing,” Lane said.
Overall, Southeast is getting pumped up and excited about the championship race.
“We are confident because we have had really good workouts this year and everyone definitely has the capability of going out and [getting a personal best time] and having a good race,” Shea said.