BY RYAN DEPAUW | The Statesman With a combined seven first place finishes this season, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams head into the NCAA Division II Central Regional Championship on Nov. 7 with plenty of momentum.
The women’s team has accounted for five of those first place finishes, winning all of their meets so far this season, including an impressive win at the Roy Griak Invitational where 37 teams competed.
“It’s one of the biggest meets of the year,” head coach Joanna Warmington said. “It’s a chance for us to see across the country where we stand.”
The men placed No. 10 in that meet and have never placed lower than that. With two first place finishes at the St. Mary Alumni Open and the Bob Waxlax Invitational, the men’s team placed fifth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championship.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was a top five conference finish,” Head coach Paul Nisius said. “So we achieved that goal at the conference meet. Three teams from the conference qualified for the National Championships last year so this is a very difficult conference.”
With the Div. II Central Regional Championship fast approaching, the coaches will have to prepare their team for what lies ahead.
“The girls have been running all summer long,” Warmington said. “A lot of it is motivation and mental toughness as the weather changes and begins to get colder. I want to make sure they’re healthy, getting enough sleep and eating right. For actual training we work more on speed type workouts to feel a bit faster.”
Coach Nisius has a similar approach, taking the foot off the gas with this teams’ training.
“The guys have been training really hard up to this point of the season so we are going to begin backing off of their weekly mileage,” Nisius said. “As well as conducting interval workouts on the intramural fields, which are much flatter than the interval days which have been in Bagley or on Beyer Road.”
Nisius is impressed with his runners, especially given their youth.
“This team has achieved excellent results this year for being such a young team,” Nisius said. “It's not often that teams can do as well as this team has when the nucleus of the team is sophomores and freshmen. Sophomore Alex Naughton has been in the top seven on the team in the past four meets and has shown great improvement this year compared to last year when he didn't qualify as one of the top 12 individuals to compete in the conference meet.”
Overall, both coaches are proud of how their teams have performed this season thus far but their season not over yet.
“To be conference champs, to go on to be a top team in the nation. These girls are very humble, ” Warmington said.