Cross Country season begins with a renewed force

Cross Country team starts off new season with new talents

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Cross Country season begins with a renewed force

The Cross Country season begins with their first meet at 10:45 Saturday at Lowes Creek County Park.

The Cross Country season begins with their first meet at 10:45 Saturday at Lowes Creek County Park.

Photo by Submitted

The Cross Country season begins with their first meet at 10:45 Saturday at Lowes Creek County Park.

Photo by Submitted

Photo by Submitted

The Cross Country season begins with their first meet at 10:45 Saturday at Lowes Creek County Park.

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On your mark, set, go. The Cross Country season has come to a start with a new team, new goals and newfound energy.

Following a successful 2015 season, with the men’s team finishing as National Champions and the women’s team placing 16th overall, the cross country team is looking forward to continued progress and hopefully staying healthy.

Head coach Dan Schwamberger said he is pleased with the training the team did over the summer. In time trials last week, Schwamberger said many of the veteran runners improved their times.

“Early indication, I’m extremely pleased where people are at,” Schwamberger said.

The team has added seven new men and 10 women to this year’s roster. Each year, the size remains about the same with around 24 male runners and around 30 females.

As the team begins to formulate goals and make plans for the season, they will try and focus more upon daily improvements. However, Schwamberger predicts the men’s team will finish within the top four and earn the team another trophy.

Nick Petersson, a senior runner studying Information Systems, also has his own goals hoping to receive All American honors at Nationals by crossing the line in 35th place or better.

“I think we can have another great year. We have a strong squad coming back, but I think we are all hoping we can bring home another trophy,” Petersson said.

In terms of the competition, North Central College (Ill.) is a predicted rival school in the region with divisional rivals UW-La Crosse, UW-Platteville and UW-Stevens Point. For the women, John Hopkins University (Md.) and Washington University (Mo.) could be regional rivals alongside divisional rivals UW- La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh.

Schwamberger said he thinks it will be exciting to see the competition later in the season.

The teams will ease into their competitions, their first one beginning this weekend. The cross country season is unique, because the first few competitions are not the most crucial in terms of winning. As the season moves on, the runners will become more acclimated to racing again.

With competition on the horizon, Schwamberger said there are good packs being formed, namely a group containing some of the sophomore women. Sophomore Morgan Marek, junior Callie Fischer, and senior Mel Becker are a few of the women worth keeping an eye on this season.

For men, past all americans like junior Darin Lau and senior Nick Petersson, as well as sophomore Patrick Treacy and senior Matt Cyra are front runners as well.

“I think the great thing about the teams this year, they are really good packs and in cross country that is really important and that is going to be the strength of our team,” Schwamberger said.

Erika Owens, senior captain of the women’s team, hopes that the freshmen feel welcome and that the group will be able to work together cohesively in a team environment. She hopes to finish the year stronger than the previous year. Owens also confirmed her belief in running in packs.

“I think that’s the way that we are going to be able to have success; being in groups rather than focusing individually,” Owens said.

In terms of the team environment, both Owens and Petersson said that the team is staying positive and feels like a family. Owens added that this team is very dedicated to the sport and to each other.

“Everyone is very dedicated and I think that is going to play into our success,” Owens said.

The Blugolds will race at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in their Alumni Open at Lowes Creek County Park.

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