The Cross Country teams will run at the University of the Incarnate Word as part of the UIW Invitational. After almost every runner showed improvement at Cowboy Jamboree at Oklahoma State, runners hope to make more of an impact on the field and on the minds of their teammates.
Ryan Cleary has been consistently in the top 5 for the men this season when he’s healthy, but has been sidelined from injuries for most of the season. Even with the injuries, he’s still focused on being a leader for the team.
“It’s been extremely difficult this year due to being sidelined for most of the actual season with injury and sickness after coming back to ACU in the best shape of my life,” Cleary said. “My individual goal at this point is to give the team everything I can if I’m able to run, and even if I’m not able to, like talking to the guys one on one and ask them how they’re feeling on workouts. It’s important to make sure guys are taking the right angle. ”
Gabby Thompson, who has emerged as the front-runner for the ACU women during the top-4 women’s redshirt season, gives all of the credit to assistant coach Jarvis Jelen in his first year as the distance running coach.
“Coach Jelen has been beyond amazing this season, and our training plans have been going really well,” Thompson said. “The entire coaching staff has been great and I can’t wait to see how this meet goes in preparation for conference.”
Cleary is also quick to point out the coaching staff as the main people to help him through his injuries.
“My coaches have been helping me cope with injury, as I haven’t run healthy yet, and missed the first one,” Cleary said. “Trying to manage injury for a runner is a giant task, and they have been doing everything they can.”
Even with the emphasis on becoming better Christian athletes, there is always a want to be the best runners they can, and to compete as a team.
“The goal is to be flat and fast so as an individual I really want to compete and see where my fitness is at for the season,” Thompson said. “For the team, the goals Coach Jelen has given us are pretty much the same, to continue to work on pack time and to see where we are at with a month before conference.”
The UIW Invitational will be the final meet before the Southland Conference Championships in Nagodoches, Oct. 28.