Looking to make long strides forward in their season, the IU men’s and women’s cross country team will travel to Stillwater, Okla., this weekend, home to the nation’s oldest cross country race.
The Hoosiers will be running an unfamiliar course against stiff competition Saturday in the 72nd annual Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree.
“It’s a place we’ve never been,” IU coach Ron Helmer said. “We’ll see how good we are and how we stack up against top teams. Any time you go to a different course, you want a great competitive effort. It gives the athletes a chance to get to see a different part of the country, a different collegiate experience.”
More than 100 universities, colleges and junior colleges will compete in the event.
The Hoosier men are coming off a strong first-place showing at the Indiana Intercollegiates and are looking to build on that success.
However, strong competition will stand in their path as they look to knock off the meet host and No. 2-ranked team in the nation, Oklahoma State.
“We’re all really excited to go out there and test ourselves,” sophomore Cole Hardacre said. “This competition has a lot of good teams. We’ll see if we’re in as good of shape as we think we are. We can definitely compete with the ranked teams that are there to score points for nationals.”
On the women’s side of the contest, the Hoosiers’ biggest foes will be No. 21 Texas Tech and No. 24 Northern Arizona.
“We’re getting an opportunity to run against teams from another area, teams we don’t normally get to race,” sophomore Sarah Pease said. “We get to see what kind of other teams are out there.”
Another large obstacle the women will have to overcome is the switch from the 5K races they have previously run this year to a 6K this weekend.
After the Jamboree, the Hoosiers will have to immediately redirect their focus to Pre-Nationals on October 18 in Terre Haute.