The men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in their first meet of the season at the West Texas College Open in Snyder on Saturday. Athletes have been training for more than three weeks, as expectations for the teams are high.
“Our coach has us on a training program that I believe will pay off when it counts,” said Daniel Block, senior cross country runner from Dalmeny, Saskatchewan. “It’s early in the season so we’ll be training straight through this week, and keep our sights on the bigger meets down the road.”
Block is the only senior on the roster for the men’s team. He was the Wildcats’ lead runner at the Southland Conference Championships last season, and is looking to improve his personal times.
As in every sport, cross country requires a full mental and physical effort. Stephanie Melo, sophomore pre-veterinarian major from Keller, has the same preparation techniques for every meet.
“My mindset is to take the race each mile at a time,” Melo said. “I start the race and just try to focus on the mile that I’m currently running. Positivity is key in a long race. I try to just get in the zone, never give up, and remember what I’m running for.”
The men’s team is welcoming six freshmen to the team, along with three sophomores. Inexperience will be an obstacle the coaching staff will have to overcome and eventually use as an advantage.
“A lot of these new recruits are students I have personally gotten to recruit so I know these guys and I know what they are all about,” assistant coach Drew Graham said.
On the women’s side, five sophomores on the team come from out of state, and one from out of the country.
“This will be my first competition in America, so I have no idea of the level of the others runners here,” Marina Guerrero, a junior bio-technology major from Bayoles, Spain said. “For this reason my principle goal in this competition to do my best for the team outcome. We are all very excited for this first meeting because it will be the start of a great season.”