With Big Ten competition slowly creeping up on the men’s and women’s cross country teams, adrenaline begins to rise and nerves dwindle.
Both teams are off to solid starts with a promising opening meet at the Indiana Open, in which the Hoosiers sat most of their starters.
The success carried on for both teams during the weekend of Sept. 18 with first-place finishes against many area schools in the Indiana Intercollegiate.
This has been a direct result of the offseason regiment and year-round training implemented by coach Ron Helmer.
“It sounds like a ‘duh,’ but we’re also training for May and June,” Helmer said. “We want to knock off some mileage and hope we can pull back a bit before championship season so our legs can catch up.”
The women’s team has high hopes and expectations to capture the Big Ten title, but several tough teams stand in their way.
Returning champion Minnesota is currently No. 8 in the country, with Illinois closely following at No. 10. No. 17 Michigan State and No. 19 Michigan round out the top 25 Big Ten teams.
However, the women have several weapons to combat the juggernauts.
Senior Wendi Robinson returns from her All-American season looking to return to championship form alongside fellow former All-American Sarah Pease.
“Last year Sarah and Wendi were strong, and people here were getting adjusted to coach,” sophomore Chelsea Blanchard said. “We have more volume and numbers now. Myself, I want to contribute to help Wendi and Sarah get better, but I want a little more responsibility.”
A new name to look out for is senior track import Molly Beckwith, who in outdoor track last year ran the nation’s third-fastest 800-meter race.
In addition to Beckwith, Blanchard and freshmen Samantha Ginther and Arianne Raby are expected to step up.
On the men’s side, Indiana looks to turn their Great Lakes Regional No. 6 ranking into their first team Big Ten championship since 1980.
The pieces seem to be in place with the way the team has started the season.
Sophomore Andrew Poore of Indianapolis garnered Big Ten Player of the Week honors after his second-place finish at the Indiana Intercollegiate, just one week after teammate Zach Mayhew, a freshman, took the award home.
The Hoosiers will look for second team All-Big Ten sophomore Cole Hardacre for leadership, as well as sophomore De’Sean Turner, who took home second in the Big Ten steeplechase last track season.
Standing in IU’s way in the Big Ten is returning champion Wisconsin, who is No. 4 nationally. Michigan and Minnesota, who placed second and third last year at the Big Ten Championships, also come into the season as No. 22 and No. 17, respectively.
“Personally, I want to make a positive impact on the team,” Turner said. “I want to go for the win at Big Tens, but more so to be prepared for the race