12 November 2019
As the cross-country season nears its end, both the men’s and women’s teams are gearing up for their final races of the year, the NCAA National Championships, coming up on Nov. 23. Both teams are coming off fourth place finishes at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Championship meet on Oct. 26 and a strong performance in the Central Regional championship on No. 9.
“There’s 275 teams in Division II cross country and 23 conferences,” said men’s head coach Mark Misch prior to the Regional championship.
“Our conference is the best in cross country at this level historically, so the (regional) meet is extremely competitive,” Misch said.
Women’s head coach Corey Kubatzky echoed Misch’s words. He added that many of the teams faced in the Regional meet were familiar ones and brought some talent with them. These same teams will face each other again at the NCAA championship, this time competing for the national title.
Prior to the Regional championship, Misch praised his team for their performance in the recent RMAC conference championship, saying that the team performed well in the second half of the race.
“Each man did his job,” said Misch. “We like to say it’s like winning the race within the race. If you beat one person, that’s one less point for you and one more for them. Lowest team score wins so every man counts.”
“When we were running, the teams ahead of us were ranked first, third, and sixth nationally and so we finished fourth behind them,” said Kubatzky, referencing the RMAC championship prior to the Regional meet. “(We’re) not too far back and hopefully we can close the gap a little bit to some of those teams, but it was a good performance from us. We beat who we were supposed to beat and kind of finished where we were.”
For the upcoming NCAA championship, the distance will be 10K for the men, as opposed to 8K, which is what they have been running all season. The women’s distance will change from their usual 5K to a 6K.
“The men run 10 kilometers at the regional and national championships so that helps,” said Misch. “It also adds two extra kilometers from what we normally race. That’s what our team is geared more toward. A longer distance which helps us more, gives us more time out there to pass more people.”
Kubatzky said the position that the women’s team is in right now is a tricky one.
“We expect to be at the national championships,” he said.
Kubatzky added that the team also needed to take a step back from training to have fresh legs for the Regional meet. A top-4 position at Regionals was needed to ensure a spot in the NCAA championship, and Kubatzky said that the extra training was needed.
“It’s kind of balancing training hard for nationals while also being able to do our job at the regional meet,” Kubatzky said.