SportsCross Country looks to build off last year’s success with new members

Teams hope to run away with conference titles
Evan BrownAugust 24, 201852 min
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After winning the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) titles last year, the Trinity women’s and men’s cross country teams aim to continue the momentum. Though the teams graduated eight seniors, head cross country coach Emily Daum led the recruitment of 14 first-year students to replace lost talent.

Of the 14 recruits, only two are women, resulting in a disparity in the number of new runners.

“This year was really weird because usually gender-wise it works out pretty evenly,” Daum said. “It was like we still had the same number of incoming freshman, but gender-wise, it was nuts. We only got two incoming females, as opposed to the five or six that we normally have. The men’s class went the other way. This is the first year that has happened.”

In recent years, the women’s team has had more members than the men’s team. This year the rosters flipped, leaving the men’s team with 20 runners and the women’s team with only 16. Daum knows the value of a larger team but believes this year’s roster is near its maximum capacity.

“Now I wouldn’t be opposed to having a few more kids per gender, but ideally I wouldn’t want to go over 20 per gender,” Daum said. “I feel like I couldn’t give enough time and effort to each athlete.”

On the first day of practice, Daum held a time trial on the track for a few athletes, while the rest of the team ran about five miles. As a result, the coaches decided to cut two runners.

“I told these guys when we were recruiting them — they reach out to us, you know,” Daum said. “They were like, ‘we’re really interested in the team,’ and I let them know usually we’re recruiting guys that are faster than this, and I told them, ‘If you work hard this summer, I can give you some training, and if you get your three mile under 18 [minutes], you may be on the team.’ ”

The recruits who already met the teams’ standards did not have to do a time trial. Daum emphasized that, though she wants to give opportunities to runners that might not have the fastest times, it’s important for the team to stay competitive.

“I don’t usually do a time trial, but these guys were very insistent on wanting to try to be on the team,” Daum said.

Daum doesn’t focus much on the genders of the runners while recruiting. She mainly looks for times that meet her standards from athletes, specifically those who attend private high schools.

“Trinity is not getting any cheaper,” Daum said. “The financial side definitely plays a risk, so we hit up the private high schools a lot because they are used to that private academic setting.”

Daum has a relatively easy time attracting interest in Trinity due to the university’s academic prominence — not to mention its athletic prestige as frequent winners of conference titles. The cross country teams have always preached a mindset focused on growth. Daum’s practice format echoes the same message.

“Coach Daum really emphasizes a stress, recover and repeat kind of mentality,” said senior Elliot Blake, co-captain of the men’s team. “It is very much a build up, cool down, build up, cool down process. We try to increase the intensity of the workouts as the season progresses. As we get to the end of the season, we taper down. We try to focus more on recovery and getting ready for the big national meets.”

Both teams begin the season with the Alamo City Opener at Olmos Basin Park in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 31.

“[The Alamo City Opener] is kinda unique because it is called a rest-buster. It is really just to get [us] out there,” said senior Molly McCullough, co-captain of the women’s team. “It’s nice that it is at the [Olmos] Basin [Park], which is a park about two miles from campus. We warm up for two miles before the race. So, we will just run from the campus to the race. It’s kinda to see where everyone is at for the first meet and to see how well your summer training went.”

Following the Alamo City Opener, the Tigers will rent a bus and drive to Northwest Arkansas for the Chile Pepper Festival, a race hosted by the University of Arkansas. The long road trips play a key part in building team chemistry.

“I love those meets more than anything because it’s crazy. That’s when the team really comes together,” Blake said. “We kinda get our kicks out of traveling to these really cool places and competing against people at the national level.”

If you wish to support the cross country team in any of their three meets in San Antonio, Texas (Aug. 31 — Alamo City Opener; Sept. 8 — Our Lady of the Lake University Collegiate Invite; Oct. 6 — University of the Incarnate Word Invitational), contact any of the cross country coaches for tips on how to best watch the meets.

“Cross country is pretty easy to come out and root on. It is in the morning, it’s over like that. You go home before 9 a.m. And you enjoy the rest of your Saturday,” Blake said. “If you are willing to wake up that early — that’s the issue.”

Evan Brown

| Class of 2021 | Majors: Neuroscience |

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