After strenuous preparation, championship season has almost arrived.
The IU men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel a short distance this Saturday to Terre Haute to race in the Pre-Nationals cross country meet – the last non-championship meet of the season – hosted by Indiana State.
The meet comprises more than 150 teams on the men’s and women’s sides from all throughout the country.
The race is being held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, which has been home to the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country Championships for the past four years.
A number of the top 10 teams in the men’s poll will be competing, including second-ranked Oklahoma State.
“This weekend gives us an opportunity to see where we’re at and beat some really good teams,” sophomore Cole Hardacre said. “Obviously, the reason we’re going is the great competition. It sets us up and gets us ready so we can hopefully make it to Nationals.
“This weekend won’t make or break the season, but if we run well, it will take a bit of weight off our shoulders and change out approach for the next races.”
The IU men are coming off an impressive showing at the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree two weeks ago, placing third in the field of 23 teams. They will be looking to build on that success in order to earn more points toward Nationals.
“We were uncertain before that race, but we now know we are a good team,” senior Timothy McLeod said. “It was the first time this year we went to a big invitational and raced well. The more good teams we beat this weekend, the better chance we have of getting to Nationals.”
The Hoosier women will also be looking to improve on their previous meets this weekend and will be up against solid competition, including four of the top five teams in the nation.
After pacing the team last meet and finishing fifth individually, junior Wendi Robinson is positive about the upcoming race. Robinson’s performance helped the Hoosiers reach a seventh-place finish.
“Overall, we want to have everyone improve upon their performances,” Robinson said. “It would be a big step if we finish in the top 10, since we are racing the best in the country. We want to be competitive, get into the front of the pack and see what happens.”