The IU cross-country team will travel to Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, New York, to compete in the Meet of Champions on Friday, Sept. 14.
The team performed well without several top runners two weeks ago. Both the men’s and women’s teams earned victories in the Miami Opener in Oxford, Ohio. This week, the Hoosiers will include their fastest runners in IU's second competition of the season.
“We’re going to line up our best athletes,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “On the girls’ side both Katherine and Maggie will run and Kyle Mau and Joe will run on the guys’ side.”
As for the men, they are led this week by Mau, a junior, who placed 37th in the Big Ten Championships last year, and Murphy, a senior.
This meet marks the beginning of their 2018 campaign.
“I’m excited. It’s been a long offseason,” Allen said. “Summer went by fast, but I think I’m ready to get going with the season.”
IU will travel over 700 miles to Van Cortlandt Park. Allen said staying composed would be a significant benchmark for the team as they all travel together for the first time this year.
On the day of the race, the Hoosiers will traverse a cross-country course that Helmer said is definitely unusual. It’s very different from those the team usually sees in the Midwest.
“It’s been there for years and years and years, but it’s basically trails through the woods,” Helmer said. “It’s not what we would typically see in the Midwest where there’s nice, flat, rolling hills with grass and open areas. It’s a little hard to navigate.”
Van Cortlandt Park’s cross-country trail opened in 1913 and features a terrain of hills. The course’s steepest section has been dubbed “the wall,” which serves as a testament to its difficulty.
Despite the unfamiliar terrain, Helmer said they're going to see if IU can win the meet.
Both Helmer and Allen stressed coming together as a team while the year progresses. This is just the second meet in a long season that could span into November if both teams mirror last year’s success.
“Staying mentally tough and aware that the season is approaching is key,” Allen said. “It helps that we’re all living together, we all keep each other honest and staying consistent with workouts in practice.”
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