Cross country faces tough competition

The men’s and women’s cross country teams travelled to Nashville, Tennessee, to compete in the 2019 Trevecca Div. II Showcase. The men finished in the middle of the pack, coming in sixth place out of 11 teams, while the women placed slightly higher in fourth place. 

The women received 109 points for their fourth place finish while the men got 171 points. 

Head coach Tim Schwegler said the showcase was a tough meet, but the teams did okay. With record-setting temperatures in Nashville and Truman facing difficult competition from across the country, Schwegler said there were some good performances by both teams. He said as long as the teams are improving in time for the conference meet, they are doing well. 

“I was hoping we could place one place higher for both men and women,” Schwegler said. “It didn’t happen and that happens, but we had some people that had really good performances, so we just want to keep that rolling.”

Freshman Nathan Key, who was the top runner for the Bulldogs and came in at No. 32 overall, said he was happy with his personal results and finished under his 27-minute goal.

“I know coach Schwegler wanted us to be one of the top four teams and stick with [The University of North Carolina at Pembroke], but unfortunately they finished a little ahead of us,” Key said. “But I know that we still have a lot of potential and we’re looking forward to running at conferences and seeing what we can do.” 

Schwegler said he thinks the runners were holding back this race because they had hill course mentality. Instead of running at full speed right out of the gate as you would typically do for a flat course, Schwegler explained that many Bulldogs seemed to be more conservative as if the course was more challenging than it was.

“It’s good to run fast no matter what,” Schwegler said. “I think we still left some effort out there.”

Schwegler said he isn’t disappointed in the teams because they were facing stiff competition. He said the Div. II Showcase was the most difficult meet of the season so far. On the men’s side there were three nationally ranked teams, while the women were up against two nationally ranked teams.

Carly Garnett, who crossed the finish line first for Truman and 18th overall, said the competition was tough, but the Bulldogs were able to compete and even set some personal bests.

“There was a lot of good competition there, including [The University of] Southern Indiana, who is a strong team in our conference,” Garnett said. “Lily Ende ran a personal best, so that was exciting. It was a long trip, but this meet definitely had some of the best competition we’ve seen all year, which helped push everyone to run harder and really compete.”

Key said the experience was different because the other teams were so talented. He said he learned more about what it’s like to race against bigger opponents and that he has to get out faster and be mentally prepared for the challenge.

“The first 8K we did, that was against a lot of smaller schools and Div. III schools, so this was really the first time to go up against some really good Div. II competition,” Key said. “I think it helped us push ourselves a little bit more and get a good measure of where we’re at this point in the season.”

Schwegler said the Div. II Showcase was a learning experience for the teams to use to fine-tune what they do for the conference meet. Right now the team is doing intense workouts in preparation for the next meet. With this being the last big training week, Schwegler said the team is hitting a peak.

Key said this week was the most difficult week of practice he has experienced so far, but the intensity will taper out over the rest of the season.

Schwegler said he expects both men and women to be at the top of the Illinois College Invitational. Key said he thinks first place is a reachable goal with the local competition that will be there.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams compete next Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Illinois College Invitational.