Indiana cross country wrapped up the Coaching Tree Invitational — its first home meet of the season —with a third-place team finish in the women’s 6K and fifth in men’s 8K. Indiana’s top finisher in the women’s 6K was graduate student Sarah Schmitt in ninth with a time of 20:29.4, and its highest placement in men’s 8K was graduate student Jake Gebhardt in 11th with a time of 24:04.6.
Strategy was a key focus coming into this meet for Indiana, Schmitt and Indiana head coach Ron Helmer said. Schmitt said she was pleased with her team’s ability to stick together during the race.
“We knew that, if we executed well, it would pay off for us toward the end of the race, and it did,” Schmitt said. “If you look at the results, I think we moved up 20-something places in the last cave in that race.”
The third-place finish for Indiana’s women’s team was a testament to the work it put into training in the offseason, Schmitt said. It is a good starting point for the team, she said, but there are many aspects to improve on going forward this season.
Helmer said the men’s fifth place overall finish is attributed to the runners losing each other early in the race. Its game plan was to stick together for the duration of the race, but the team was scattered.
“We weren’t working together as a group,” Helmer said. “When you do that, you lose relaxation. When you lose relaxation, you’ll lose the ability to move up hard late.”
Training to stick together in future practices should get a more favorable result next meet, Helmer said.
The University of North Carolina finished first overall and Georgetown University finished second overall in both the men’s and women’s races at the meet. Northern Arizona University secured the top three spots in the men’s 8K race but fell behind North Carolina and Georgetown in overall points.
Indiana continues its cross country season Sept. 30 at the Paul Short Invite in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.