Friday signifies more than the end of the week for the ACU cross-country teams. Both the men’s and women’s teams begin their season at the Bill Libby Invitational hosted by McMurry University in Abilene. With distance running being a dominant force for ACU in the past, assistant coach, Ray Walker has big goals for his teams.
“I hope this meet gives them confirmation in their walk to being the best they could be this year, when it is all on the line later at conference,” Walker said.
On the women’s side, the Wildcats have six returners including juniors Diana Garcia-Munoz and Alexandria Hackett. Garcia had an outstanding cross country season last fall and is coming off of a track season that put her towards the top of the Southland Conference distance standings.
Hackett was the number two runner for ACU in cross-country last fall, following Garcia. Hackett, along with her other teammates, are coming off of a summer full of training and sacrifices.
“Everyone who returned this year has gotten better. They really stepped it up this summer, and the last few weeks we have been together,” Walker said, “In practice you can see that they all want the same thing, to compete at the highest level they possibly can when the time comes.”
The men’s team however had no new recruits sign this summer, but neither Walker nor the team is worried.
“The addition of only a few athletes helps the team dynamics. The group we have is family orientated, which makes it easy for the additional athletes to fit into the program,” Walker said.
Senior Daniel Block and sophomore Ryan Cleary were the team’s top two runners last season, but with a tough summer training season just finishing up, any of the seven members that make up the men’s side could step up.
The Libby Invitational starts a brief home stand for the ‘Cats with this week the teams racing in Abilene, followed by ACU’s home meet next weekend at Sherrod Park.
“My main goal is for the team to give everything they have at conference, to leave it all out there. It is my job to prepare them, and I just pray I continue to do it with God leading my every move.”
The men’s and women’s team will race Friday at 6 p.m. at Nelson Park located next to the Abilene Zoo.