The season is coming to a close for the University of Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s cross country teams. Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach Brad Robinson believes that during this season, both teams have made a lot of progress.
“… Just the moxie that they show to kind of continue to build and develop from and show resistance to the difficulties, to challenge themselves, to grow and get stronger and faster collectively and make each other better without a doubt, but hoping to kind of cap it off and the best race of the season is the idea,” Robinson said.
Robinson said that from a competition standpoint, it was nice to have a more traditional season like it was before COVID-19. He said he saw many improvements from both teams throughout the season and that 85-90% of the team ran lifetime bests’ during the season.
The teams competed in the GLVC Championships on Oct. 23., according to UIndy Athletics. According to Robinson, the men’s team came in fifth place. Robinson said their scoring was affected because the top runner on the men’s team was unable to compete.
“We probably would have been fourth place overall, had he been able to join us in and run, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The guys did [their] best to step up,” Robinson said. “Everybody in our top five to top six ran right at their lifetime best, if not the fastest they’ve ever run before by a significant margin. So they still showed up and competed.”
Robinson said that for the women’s team they were hoping for a top three finish, however they also finished in fifth. He said that graduate student Claire Eaton led the way, being sixth in all- conference.
The teams participated in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regionals on Nov. 6, according to UIndy Athletics. Seven athletes from both the men’s and women’s teams were selected to compete in regionals and represent the teams, Robinson said.
One of these athletes on the men’s team was junior AJ Goecker. He said he prepared for regionals by making sure he was getting enough sleep and drinking enough. He said he also visualized the course by watching the course preview and dropping the intensity. Eaton said she prepared for regionals like she has always prepared. She said this is because she wanted to draw from consistency that the team has benefited from this season.
“And not hyping it [regionals] up too much where we get too nervous or anxious, but just knowing that it’s another meet and we’re just going out there and doing the same thing, but… it does hold more weight,” Eaton said. “It’s balancing those two things where it’s like, yes, we know it’s more weight, but we kind of have to think of it as just another race for mental preparations. We don’t freak ourselves out or anything.”
Eaton said she believes that this season has been good and has been the best season she has personally had. She said that many transfers came to the team, including herself, so it took some time for everyone to get to know each other.
“I think it’s been awesome …. I went to a different university for my undergrad, so it’s been a whole new experience for me, but the team has been really great. I think they’re just super friendly in general and there’s a lot of us, so I think that’s a unique aspect about this team, but I think we make it work and try to do big team things,” Eaton said. “And so I think there’s a high priority for this team to be a team who loves on each other and wants to be there for each other.”
Goecker said the season started off shaky for him due to him getting sick. He said a few other members were coming back from injuries and illnesses as well. However, he said that they are really starting to peak at the right time and that the team’s morale has improved as the season continued.
“At the very beginning, with all the injuries, it was like we knew we had so much more potential than what we were running, just because we had so many guys that were either out with injuries or illnesses,” Goecker said. “As that’s kind of starting to get better, it’s definitely improved as the season’s gone on as we’re starting to gain a lot more confidence in our running abilities and everybody’s getting healthy again.It’s all kind of peaking at the right time.”
Robinson said that the morale for the teams at this point in the season is as strong as ever. He said that there were many new faces and personalities in the team and that they were able to blend in.
“That’s what you want to see developing continuously on a year in and year out basis…,” Robinson said. “Even though athletes have graduated in the past, whether they were strong or not so strong, athletes that are here want to continue to pick up the reins and take it to the next level of the program collectively across the board. That’s what we’ve been shooting for.”