TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Not a lot of things seem to affect the IU cross-country teams’ top runners when it comes to being prepared to compete.
This includes cold, windy conditions, like the ones at the Lavern Gibson Cross-Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Friday, and the fact that both teams have slipped in the national rankings as the season has progressed. The Hoosiers’ star runners, junior Katherine Receveur and sophomore Ben Veatch, proved nothing could hold them back mentally or physically at Friday's NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships.
“We really didn’t talk much about the weather. They put some long sleeves on and that was about the only adjustment we had,” Coach Ron Helmer said. “I thought they looked really comfortable, and it was probably a non-factor for our group because they just didn’t worry about it.”
In the women’s 6K race, Receveur continued the torrid pace of her 2017 season as she followed up her first-place finish at the Big Ten Championship with another victory by running a time of 20:34.9.
Receveur said the key to her success is to just approach every race as relaxed as possible.
“I just try to have a relaxed mindset and just roll with the punches,” Receveur said. “No matter if I have an awesome race or a disappointing race the week before, I just try to move on and not dwell on it.”
Receveur has had to move on from her fair share of impressive races this year as she continues to perform at an All-American level.
However, Helmer said her strategy was a bit different Friday than it was in prior races as she didn't start as fast as usual.
“We wanted her to be relaxed early and then really assert herself two-thirds of the way through the race,” Helmer said. “It was definitely a different strategy and a different level of energy exertion.”
The women’s team as a whole improved on its recent stretch of disappointing performances with a fifth-place finish helping the Hoosiers boost their resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, next week.
Big Ten schools Michigan and Michigan State were the top two teams in Friday's race, which qualified them for nationals, while Receveur’s first-place finish qualified her as an individual.
Filling out the top five for the Hoosiers on the women's side were juniors Maggie Allen in 18th place (20:59.5), Brenna Calder in 25th (21:08.5) and Haley Harris in 35th (21:22.4), while sophomore Grace Walther finished in 69th (21:58.0).
Allen in particular improved drastically on her showing at the Big Ten Championship by improving her time by more than 30 seconds.
“I didn’t really notice the cold or wind as much when I was racing,” Allen said. “I just try to block out all the negative stuff and ignore it.”
Meanwhile, the men’s team finished sixth overall behind another stellar performance from Veatch, who finished fourth overall with a time of 31:01.3, qualifying him for nationals as an individual as well. Michigan State came out victorious in the 10K followed by Michigan as the two national qualifying teams.
“It helped that we’ve raced against a lot of these teams and everybody was familiar up front,” Veatch said. “I knew what I had to do and knew I could run in the top group to qualify for nationals.”
Sophomore Kyle Mau was next in line for IU with a 16th-place finish (31:23.9), followed by junior Joe Murphy in 41st (31:58.6), sophomore Bryce Millar in 44th (32:00.6) and junior Kyle Burks in 73rd (32:53.3).
Even though the women’s team still has a good chance of making it to nationals as an at-large selection, while the men’s team’s chances aren’t as likely, Friday’s races were still about IU’s stars in Receveur and Veatch.
“For Katherine, her strategy in this race was very important as she gets ready for her next challenge,” Helmer said. “Ben is a great racer who always puts himself in the right positions to race well at the end. He’s still a young guy so his future is still very bright and it will be fun to see what he can do as we move forward.”
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