Story by ROB CURRY, Assistant News Editor
The Mules and Jennies cross country teams have their first meet of the season, and only home meet Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Keth Memorial Golf Course in Pertle Springs.
Senior Laban Sialo said the first meet is a chance to show how much training has been done over the summer, and how much work needs to be done before the next meet, the Missouri State Invitation Sept. 17 in Springfield Mo.
Head coach Kirk Pedersen explained, “The impact of Friday’s meet is small on the season, but it’s an opportunity to shine. Pertle is home. We train out there,” he said.
This will be Pedersen’s 25th season with UCM’s cross country teams. “The main focus of the season comes down to conference and regional championships,” Pedersen said.
Senior Kacy Hession said the new members of the Jens team are fitting in well and are excited for their first college race. “There’s more experience on the girl’s team that can help push us through,” Hession said. “We have a pretty big sophomore class returning with a year under their belt.”
The goal for the men’s team is to qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships. Sialo said he was confident the team could take first in conference and repeat that success at regionals. Last year, Sialo finished 16th at nationals in Spokane, Wash.
As a team, the Mules missed qualifying for nationals by one spot, but Pedersen said they are certainly capable of qualifying this year. “They have good ability, and the potential to be national qualifiers is there,” Pedersen said.
The women’s team did not have much success last year in the conference meet. Pedersen expects conference will be a challenge this year too with the women’s team moving into the Central Region.
“Kacy Hession has been a strong leader last year and this year,” Pedersen said. “I see the women’s team with more hunger for success. They were disappointed with last year’s results, and I think they will improve vastly as a team,” Pedersen said.
Both teams have been training all summer and will continue to condition throughout the season. Pedersen explained, “Runners must do summer training or chances of success are nil.”
Hession detailed season training, “Earlier in the season we focus on miles, and as we get closer to conference we reduce miles and ramp up workouts.”
However, Sialo warned that training during the season was a balancing act. “I’ve seen people over train and tire at the end of the season.”