The University of Indianapolis cross country team participated in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional meet on Nov. 5 in Evansville, Ind.
This was both teams’ last meet until the 2017 season, and one they have been preparing for all year, according to Head Cross Country Coach Brad Robinson.
“I think a lot of it is just… being in a habit or a system of we’re not veering away,” he said. “It is a big meet. We are talking about it. We’re not shying away from what we’re trying to accomplish overall, being very realistic.”
The women’s team finished in 19th place out of 32 competitors. Junior Briana Leonard was the top finisher for the Hounds in 77th place, with sophomore Mickayla Wenzel behind her in 91st place.
Also contributing to the women’s team was freshman Allyson McLaughlin with a time of 23:21, sophomore Sarah Burch with 23:33 and freshman Taylor Bohlman with 23:45.
Freshman Alec Scheerer led the men’s side, placing individually at 90th. Overall, the Hounds placed 23 out of 31 teams to end the season.
Sophomore Taylor Kleyn also contributed with a time of 33:38 along with junior Matthew Egan with 33:43 and junior Andy Carr with 33:59.
This year, three men who ran in the regional meet last year returned, and only one of the women.
Wenzel said the team stuck with their original routine in practice, but backed off as Regionals approached to better prepare the runners.
“Throughout the beginning of the season we have higher mileage than we do towards the end. It’s called tapering,” Wenzel said. “Like the last 10 days before your last meet you run less miles. You give your legs a rest and then your cardio is still fine. Usually people improve on the last meet.”
Robinson said that this year’s regional meet would be more about gaining experience, since the team is so young this season.
“For our young team it’s really just more about gaining experience from the meet itself,” he said. “Placement wise trying to finish as a team in the top half, so the top 15, would really be the goal on both sides. A great day for us would be if we could sneak into the top 10 overall, either side, men or women. It’d be huge. The ladies as well, we’re only racing one athlete that has regional meet experience. That would be our number one runner Briana Leonard. Beyond that, for our number two through six runners in this meet for the ladies side in particular it’s just really just gaining experience. It’s what the championship season is about is the mind shift, the strategy, the pace, the whole atmosphere is really about.”
Egan said that he would like to improve his time of 33:10 from last year’s regional meet, as well as doing well as a team.
“As a team, I want to do better than we did last year,” Egan said. “I believe the magic number [is] 15. 15th is what we were last year.”
Prior to the Regional meet, the Greyhounds raced at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship at the Missouri S&T Golf Course in Rolla, Mo. The women placed 6th out of 14 teams in a 6K race and the men placed 7th out of 13 teams in an 8K race.
Leonard lead the Greyhound women, placing 13th (22:16) and beating her best time from last season by 16 seconds. Wenzel also got a personal record with a time of 22:58, 25 seconds faster than her previous time.
Leading the men was Scheerer who came in 26th with a time of 25:55, the first time he has broken the 26 minute mark. Other top scorers for the men were Egan who came in 51st and senior Brandon Smith in 57th.
Robinson said Conference went well for both teams and shows that their hard work has paid off.
“Conference played well into our hand where our top five ladies in particular, if not personal bests, season best when it mattered the most,” Robinson said. “So it shows our training has been working and we’re running our best when it matters the most.”
Ending his first year as head coach, Robinson plans to continue growing the team as well as his coaching.
Robinson said, “It’s a kind of first year for me in the head coaching role.
“For a young team in general it’s an opportunity to really set a standard for us to build moving forward for us to really allow ourselves to set that benchmark for where we want to build from for the future.”
Egan also said this season has developed all of the runners and prepared them even more for next year.
“And even beyond running I’ve seen great strides in development with leadership among the juniors… We’ve all grown together and shown that we’re ready to be leaders next year.”