The IU cross-country teams are set to start their seasons Aug. 31 at the Miami Opener in Oxford, Ohio.
This marks the start of a season away from home as the Hoosiers are without a home course this fall.
Both the men’s and women’s teams are looking to compete again, as it will be their first race since running in the NCAA Championships last November.
“We’ve been training all summer waiting to get to cross-country season,” junior Ben Veatch said. “It’s exciting to see how all the hard work over the summer pays off.”
Veatch said the teams are optimistic about a large freshman class that will highlight their season.
“It’s one of the best recruiting classes we’ve ever had, not only freshmen, but our transfers as well,” Veatch said. “There’s a lot of energy in this group.”
Out of the 48 runners listed on the roster, 22 are freshmen who are adapting to an unfamiliar environment.
IU Coach Ron Helmer said he is excited about this group not just for this year, but for the entirety of their college careers.
“They’ve been incredible,” Helmer said. “They don’t know much, but they want to learn and they’ve done decent work over the summer. They were afraid, they were nervous and they were anxious when we first started.”
It is still unknown who will be the top runners for each team, but Helmer said he is confident that some of the younger athletes will be able to contribute throughout the season.
On the women's team, thanks to the leadership of veterans like Katherine Receveur and Maggie Allen — both returning for their senior seasons — the young group has matured quickly in preparation for the upcoming year.
“The biggest part I’ve tried to highlight is that the girls I’m competing with on the team are all my friends,” Allen said. “Being able to show the freshmen that we care about each other not just on the track, but also outside of it is the most important information we’re trying to replicate.”
Allen said if the team looks past just being teammates to care for each other personally, they’ll have a successful season this year.
Meanwhile, on the men's side, Veatch was unanimously named Big Ten Freshman of the Year after his first cross-country season at IU. Now a junior, he is expected to lead the men’s team throughout the season.
“I was a leader on my high school team,” Veatch said. “I think I’m in a similar position now, but I mainly try to lead by example. We know what to do. We know what works and we know what coach expects.”
The program announced its 2018 schedule, which includes five meets they didn’t attend a season ago.
Sept. 28 marks the only returning meet from last year’s schedule. The team will face its first Big Ten competition at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, two weeks after the Meet of Champions at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
The women finished 17th at the invitational last season, while the men finished 29th. Receveur led all Big Ten athletes on the women’s side, finishing 10th overall with a time of 20:00.5. Veatch, in a time of 24:06.7, finished 28th for the men.
After the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois on Oct. 12, the cross-country team will travel back to Madison, Wisconsin to represent IU at Pre-Nationals the following day.
Less than a week later, the runners will finish their regular season Oct. 19 in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois in the Illini Open, the final meet before the Big Ten Championships.
In last year’s Big Ten Championships, Receveur finished first with a time of 20:10.3. Veatch led the men with a time of 24:13.6, crossing the finish line in fourth place. The women’s and men’s teams both finished seventh overall.
There are high expectations shadowing the women’s team that produced the 2017 Big Ten individual champion.
Allen said the team shouldn’t compare themselves to last year’s team, though. She instead wants to learn from her experiences this season and build upon them leading into the championship meets.
“Last year was last year and, although it was great, we need to leave that in the past and learn from it,” Allen said.
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