The University of Indianapolis men’s and women’s cross country teams are off to a running start to the 2023-24 season. According to UIndy Athletics, so far, the teams have had two meets respectively, the first at Franklin College where the men placed first and the women in second. The team’s latest meet of the season, the Jaguar Invitational, took place at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where the men placed in fourth and the women in sixth, according to UIndy Athletics. Head Coach Brad Robinson, who has been coaching the team for 13 years, said that although the team roster and schedule are shorter this year, it has allowed the team to focus on staying healthy, better quality and more consistent training.
“We’re a little smaller, but I would say we’ve got a lot of veterans as well so, even though we’re smaller, I would say the team, in general, is a bit closer,” Robinson said. “Overall, the experience coming into it, we don’t have as many new faces of true freshmen coming in. So whether it was graduate transfers or just returning athletes, almost everybody seems to be bringing some sort of collegiate cross-country experience to the table, and that’s allowed us to start training at a much higher level, smarter level without a doubt, our injuries on average, I would say have been down and just higher, higher level of training without a doubt. And that’s transitioning over to the results we see when we race as well.”
Robinson expressed that both teams are eager to be challenged this year despite losing some strong runners this year. He said the resilience the team has shown has quickly made up for the losses allowing for the teams to work stronger as a collective. Sophomore Emma Gaston stated the women’s team has been very supportive of one another, creating an environment where everyone can accomplish their goals. She said the team has surprised her this year since everyone has been reaching their individual potential which she enjoys seeing.
“We have the mentality that you’re not running for yourself, you’re running for the team and if you can focus on the team, then you’re gonna improve your own self no matter what you do,” Gaston said. “And Coach Brad has really honed us in on that. It’s not about yourself, it’s about the team and if we run for the team and do it for the right reasons, everything else will fall into place.”
Fifth-year graduate student Jaycee Wilburn said everyone on the men’s team has been improving as the season progresses. He stated the close-knit nature of the team has created a culture where even when someone is having an off day someone is always there to pick you up. Right now the team trained for their next big meet, the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) Chargers invitational in Huntsville, Alabama according to Wilburn. The meet took place on Oct. 7 according to UIndy Athletics.
“Next weekend we have Huntsville Alabama coming up, which is gonna be a huge DII showcase,” Wilburn said. “Everyone’s really hype for this meet. This is the place basically where we’re gonna run really fast. This is probably going to be, not our fastest, but hopefully, it’s gonna be people PRing personal records across the board, bringing some of the fastest times they’ve ever seen. Just use it as a big confidence booster and then hopefully regionals, we’re trying to place high enough to potentially qualify for nationals.”
[As of Reflector press time, this meet has already taken place.]
According to Robinson, he hopes in the future the teams can claim the previous two meets as their home court. He stated the team quickly adjusted to the new course and is currently gearing up for more familiar meets. Robinson said the Huntsville meet historically has always been a great meet for the teams as far as competition goes.
“We want to improve upon last year,” Robinson said. “We want to improve our finishes at conference and the regional championship for sure. And then we’re looking to see if we can get an athlete, perhaps, to the national championship also.”