Cougars prepare for running festival in Austin
As the Rouge Grass Routes Running Festival approaches, cross-country teams reflect on their previous performances at the 37th annual Justin F. Cooper Memorial Rice Invitational.
Men’s cross country placed sixth overall in the 6K course while women’s finished 11th in the 4K. Assistant cross-country coach Steve Magness is expecting a better performance from both teams.
“I’m expecting a strong performance from the men’s side. I think we can compete for kind of a podium finish, top three,” Magness said. “On the women’s side, we gain back one of our runners, Chelsea Huebner, who wasn’t racing. So I think that will bump up our teams standing, and I expect them to compete pretty well too.”
In preparation, men’s and women’s cross country have been committed to training, changed up their workouts and continue to show signs of progression.
“We’ve been doing a lot of long work. We’re still kind of in a building phase,” Magness said. “So we’ve been doing a lot of long runs and longer workouts to kind of prepare us for the increase distance that’s going to happen with this meet and then our following meets.”
Women’s cross-country runner Taylor Beer, who finished 43rd with a time of 13:54 in the Rice Invitational, is looking forward to the Running Festival in her hometown, Austin, to see family and friends while also advancing her previous time.
“I plan to start off a little bit slower than I did,” Beer said. “I think I spent a lot of my energy in the beginning of my race, and I wasn’t able to hold on in the middle of my race, so I definitely plan on being more conservative and waiting until the middle of my race to start picking it up.”
With the cross-country schedule set up for each competition to be more challenging, the Cougars aim for beating various schools and competitors that are familiar in their region and conference. For the Running Festival, the men will be competing in the 8K and the women in the 6K.
“It’s another stepping point. It’s our first time running the full distance,” Magness said. “So each race up to this point has gotten a little bit longer, but this will be our first go at the distance we’ll race at conference. So it’s a good first test.”