Sept. 15, 2014

Ashley Thompson
athomp13@uccs.edu

Aiming for their third straight national championship appearance, the bar is set high for this year’s women’s cross country team.

Head Coach David Harmer is entering his third season as coach. “This is the most solid incoming class we’ve had,” Harmer said. “A lot of freshmen will compete on varsity this year.”

Five seniors will team with the strong incoming class to look to improve on their 20th place finish at nationals last year. In the preseason polls, the team ranks at four in regional competition and 17th nationally.

Harmer and assistant coach Sarah Kettelkamp look for recruits that put in hard work when no one is looking, and have the right intangibles.

“We look for girls who are good students, as well as those who have good chemistry on a team,” said Kettelkamp.

Heather Bates, sophomore, feels the upperclassmen are grooming the younger girls to become great runners.

“Everyone is always encouraging everybody,” said Bates. “We all train together and it’s a good group of girls. The team chemistry looks great so far.”

The jump from high school to college athletics presents obstacles and changes for freshmen such as Emily Campbell.

“The intensity level is up,” said Campbell. “The time we spend practicing has probably tripled from high school.”

Running, agility and speed work were the hallmarks of the preseason.

According to Kettelkamp, the main point stressed in the preseason is effort.

“So far, it’s been phenomenal,” said Kettelkamp. “All the girls are on top of their game. Expectations are up, the team is looking at nationals again and itching to get a better spot.”

Kettelkamp mentioned a timed workout used at the beginning of every season to gauge the team’s general position. This year, six members of the team beat last year’s top two runners.

Nothing less than a return to nationals will work.

“All of the returners are really motivated to make it back to nationals,” said Bates. “Everybody wants to make it, making it our third year. We are going to have a good season.”

The seventh annual Rust Buster on Sept. 13 is the Mountain Lions’ first meet, and Oct. 4 will see the team in Denver for the Metro State Invitational.