After a strong and successful season in 2020, the cross country team has started to prepare to join the ranks of the Western Athletic Conference.
“We are excited for the new competition, new challenges and new people to compete against,” said head coach Jarvis Jelen.
The cross country team will start up its fall season in the WAC, along with the rest of the ACU sports. Jelen said he expects many surprises at this season’s upcoming meets but said the team will be ready.
Last season Irene Rono, Sophmore from Eldama Ravine, Kenya, will be returning. Rono placed first at the Southland conference tournament and finish among half at the cross country NCAA nationals meet.
The men’s team finished eighth and the women’s finished second overall last year at the Southland Conference final meet.
Coach Jelen will not be the only one excited to face the new challenges of a new conference. The runners on both the men’s and women’s sides said they are ready and eager to face their new competition.
Cooper Goggans, freshman from Aledo, Texas, is a returner for the men’s team. Last season he traveled with the team four times and ran a PR at the UIW Winter XC Invitational meet.
“I am excited for the WAC because the competition will be a lot better,” said Goggans.
With the move to the WAC, the Wildcat’s conference championship will take place in California. Despite the huge changes that come with changing conferences, Jelen and his runners are confident in the depth of the teams and about their work over the summer.
“There’s good depth on both the women’s and men’s teams,” said Jelen. “We are a really unified team and enjoy battling it out with each other.”
The cross country team’s first meet will be at the Aggie Opener in college station. They will also host a following meet, the Naimadu Classic, at home on Sept. 18 at the ACU cross country course.