Runners adjust to new coach
Despite the lightning and the rain, the University of Indianapolis men’s and women’s cross country teams still did their best at the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships in Bloomington, Ind., on Sept. 16, according to Head Cross Country Coach Brad Robinson. Out of 19 teams, the women finished 7th overall and 2nd out of 13 schools for the Non-Division I schools. For the men, the team finished 11th out of the 20 teams present and 6th out of 15 schools in the Non-Division I schools.
For the women’s team, junior Briana Leonard, sophomore Mickayla Wenzel, junior Samantha Holmes and sophomore Sarah Burch finished in the top 20 Non- Division I Standings and earned All Little State Title. Leonard finished 2nd, while Wenzel came in 5th.
For the men’s team, freshman Alec Scheerer received an All Little State honor in the small school division, finishing 9th.
According to Robinson, both teams did an excellent job despite the weather. He said that because of the lightning storm, the meet was delayed for 80 minutes. However, Robinson was proud of the teams.
“[The] races were about racing for place, not focusing on time, because of the sloppy conditions,” he said. “The ladies fell short of defending their Little State Title but raced great. The men ran their first 8,000-meters race of the season, and it proved to be a difficult race based on course conditions. The men fell short of their goal of placing in the top three at Little State race. We had positive takeaways as the women and men each completed our race plan of going out conservatively the first mile and then focusing on moving up.”
Along with preparing for and racing at meets, the teams also welcomed Robinson as their new full-time head cross country coach. Robinson said that he is a UIndy alum who graduated in 2008, and for three years he worked as a graduate assistant coach for UIndy’s cross country program and was a volunteer assistant for two years.
“So on and off, I’ve been very close with the program in some capacity at least,” Robinson said.
Because he has worked with the team for going on six years, Robinson said that not many changes will be made to the program. He also said that because he is a full-time coach, the runners have more peace of mind knowing they can find him and contact him whenever they need him during the day, as opposed to just at practice. He also said that he hopes to promote more accountability, communication and organization on the team.
“I like organization,” Robinson said, “so I’m trying to incorporate that as much into the team, or at least be more vocal about it. Not that we weren’t doing it in the past, but just be more cognitive about it overall.”
Junior Casey Wendorff said that the year has gone smoothly so far with Robinson as the full-time coach.
“He’s done really well,” Wendorff said. “We’ve been used to him because he’s been [an] assistant coach for many years. So really, the transition is only in how the week is structured and maybe a couple workouts. But other than that, it’s been pretty close.”
This year’s cross country team is very young according to Robinson. Most of the seniors graduated, leaving the junior runners as the oldest.
Being the coach for both the men’s and women’s teams, Robinson said that he wants to make sure that they are a unit, as opposed to two separate teams performing the same sport. Junior Michaela Harrison said that she likes the unity of the team.
“There’s a lot more guys, so they have more numbers on us, but the integration is there,” Harrison said. “And I like that.… I think it would be weird to not know the guys’ team.”
Wendorff said that while the team is young, this is not a setback, because of the talent the runners show.
“We have some juniors that are going to be rising up and scoring now and getting some points,” he said. “And we have two freshmen that really have potential. ‘We’re not rebuilding, we’re reloading,’ is what we say.”
Robinson also says he has an optimistic outlook for the rest of the season.
“We’re very young,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to what we can do this year.”
The next meet for the men’s and women’s cross country team is at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, Oct. 1.