Matt Lawder, a Junior cross country runner at Butler University, is the Men's Cross Country correspondent for the HLN Blog.
The season is now in full swing with the Notre Dame Invitational behind us and teams now receiving at-large points. Don't ask about how teams get points, it too complicated. Suffice to say, that when you beat good teams you get points.
The race was awesome to watch (Justin Roeder and I were sitting out of this meet to get ready for Pre-Nationals in two weeks) with the course basically looping back on itself five times over. The Butler cheering section (along with some Valpo men...as well as BU alum, Andrew Sherman) could get in a good yell at the team about every half mile or so.
Andy Baker reasserted himself as one of the top runners in the nation with a blazing third place finish in 23:45, barely missing second place as he flew towards the finish line. The rest of the squad moved well through the field to secure our overall 3rd-place finish, even though Joe MacDonald went down early. He got tripped up and had to pull out of the race. Our whole team PR'ed in the race which is good news as we head toward Pre-Nat's in two weeks and the Horizon League Championships only a month away.
The team has been looking sharp for the past couple of weeks as we've been tuning up to race. A week and a half out from Notre Dame Invitational, the team did a set of 6-by-1 mile runs on our intramural fields. Needless to say the top group looked phenomenal (the second group looked good too, but don't ask about my run, not the best). Baker, MacDonald, Rob Mullett, and Kris Gauson got out hard and finished harder, starting off at 4:49 and quickly dropping the times below 4:40. The group finished mile #6 in 4:34, with Baker reminding everyone that they dropped their time on each successive rep.
Also of note for amazing times/scores I would like to mention my complete dominance of Gauson in NBA 2K9 later that day. I took the lead early even though he was playing with the Houston Rockets and had Yao Ming sitting in the paint most of the game. After allowing only 6 points in the second quarter the game was pretty much over. Sorry, Kris, you may have your speed, but you need to work on your jump shot.
Speaking of basketball, we may be having a shooting challenge with our coach after the season ends. Coach Roe made the bold claim that he was a better basketball player than anyone one the team...which is fine...but most of our guys from Britain never even played rec ball when they were young (ask Baker about his "fade away" sometime, or maybe Tom Boardman about the time it took him 30 minutes to make a single 3-pointer). But, we also have the likes of Madison Roeder on the squad...a two-time Butler basketball summer camp free throw shooting champion (it's rumored that he once made 100 free throws in a row). Now, to be fair, our coach also won some random shooting contest out on the west coast during his youth (the Holidome-Sun Classic...?), so it may be a good match-up. I may not have any of those glamorous titles to my name, but I was the leading the scorer on my CYC team during my sophomore year of high school. Hey...I'm only 5-foot-8...so that's gotta count for something, right? More news on that towards the end of the year.
With the weather getting colder now, we've moved most of the practices to the afternoon or at least late morning. We even got our normal 7AM core today moved back due to "dark and cold weather." Other big news on the team is that Mullett and Steve Lisgo bought a car. It is a beautiful Lincoln ('96, I think), which is great news for me. No longer will I have to drive their entire household to the store, or out to eat, or to the airport...or to get chocolate covered strawberries and then take them to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to hide the strawberries in the bushes so that they could later "accidentally" stumble upon them during some planned romantic walk with a young lady.
Now they can do that on their own.