Matt Lawder, a Junior cross country runner at Butler University, is the Men's Cross Country correspondent for the HLN Blog.
Finally...the cross country season has started!
We opened up the year at the Great American Legends meet at Purdue University. It sounds prestigious, but there were actually only three teams competing: Butler, Taylor University, and Purdue. On the women's side it was only Butler running against Purdue. So far, the year looks bright with two individual champions in the first meet of the season.
Andy Baker (Butler's resident two-time All-American) won the men's race and Katie Clark (just a frosh) won the women's race. So, a solid start for both. The rest of the squad looked solid too. Kris Gauson had a nice third place finish and freshman Kevin Oblinger was making great moves during the race. Kirsty Legg had a solid finish for fourth, and the rest of the women's team did quite well. They're almost all new girls...eleven total. WOW!
I cheered from the sidelines for this one along with about 50-percent of our team. The meet featured half-squads on both men's and women's side. Most of our team will open up in two weeks in Terre Haute. I'm ready to get into racing after getting my blood pumping while running around the course last week...nothing better than the start of the cross season!
Even though Purdue was the first race of the season, we've been getting ready up on campus for almost a month.. We got back to campus and found out that the team was too big to travel for a team camp, so we stayed at Butler and did some team bonding instead. Best perk of staying on campus was definitely the free Atherton (campus dining hall) food for a week. Probably had a little too much ice cream...!
Getting back into the rhythm of team training was great. So far everyone has just been building base and getting strong with 80, 90, or 100 mile weeks and longer tempo work. We've worked in some fartleks or what our coach claims are fartleks (I still don't think that a ten minute rep can be considered a fartlek). It's been an awesome group, very big, and always somebody to run with at whatever pace.
Earlier I mentioned the women's team...and it's worth noting that it has been completely revamped this year thanks to some stellar recruiting (compliments to our coaches â Gauson, Huffman, and Roe). The team is huge now! I can remember during my freshman year, we had about four guys and three girls healthy and running at one point during the winter and now, we roll up thirty strong to our practices. It has a different feel with such a big team and it's been great so far.
Almost everyone from last year's men's squad is back (shout-out to Butler alums Tommy Davies and Kent Wories). So, we have our scoring five from Regionals and Nationals back, as well as Joe MacDonald (national qualifier on the track in the 5,000m) and Steve Lisgo (3rd in the NATION in the 3,000m steeplechase last season) getting added to the mix.
Another thing that is still the same as last year is our early practices. 6:20 a.m. on most weekdays (note: the sun doesn't come up until about 6:55 a.m. this time of year and the days are only getting shorter from here on out), but I think we'll be heading to afternoon practices relatively soon...so that should be nicer. It's a bit tough running when you can't see where your foot is going to land for the first half-hour. But, it does get everyone to bed at an early hour and when your done with a 13-miler and drills on a Wednesday by 8:30 a.m., it leaves you with a lot of time the rest of the day to get things done. Most of my day, however, consists of dominating Baker in FIFA â09 and watching my 1989 TV...which JUST got the cable hooked up to it last week.
Also, I need to give a shout-out to Rob Mullet and the 42nd Street household. Great team barbecue last week!