Twilight meet to start cross country season


Seniors Christina Stassi and Natalie Rech are players listed to watch for the 2018 season. Photo courtesy of WSC.

Austin Svehla, Staff Writer

The start of the cross country season is right around the corner and there are many aspects of the season to look forward to, including goals to exceed expectations and improving every day.

This year’s men’s and women’s rosters have gotten slightly larger, which head coach Marlon Brink sees as a positive. Both teams consist of primarily underclassmen, which allows some room for growth and improvement.

“There’s some strength in numbers. It’s one of those things where if you’ve got some more guys, it makes it a little bit more exciting to be able to go out and practice with a group of guys, rather than just one or two,” said Brink.

Two weeks of practice are in the books, with a combination of long mileage days, speed work, and hill work all set to prepare runners for the season ahead.

“They don’t necessarily place limits on what they think they can do because they may not know what they can do yet,” Brink said.

The first meet of the season is this Friday at the Augustana Twilight Invite in Sioux Falls, S.D. The invite is a 5-kilometer race for the women and a 4-mile race for the men.

Brink doesn’t read too much into the results of the first race of the season but would still like to see a high-quality race from his runners. “I want to see guys go out and run a smart race. I want to see them get in there and be competitive,” Brink said.

The Augustana Twilight Invite is unique because the women’s race starts at 8:30 p.m. and the men’s race starts at 9 p.m., whereas most races are ran during the day.

Sophomore Nathan Hiemer is a fan of the season’s first race.

“My favorite meet is the Augustana Twilight Invite because, in cross country, you don’t normally get to run at night, so that makes it pretty interesting. It’s also a flat course,” Hiemer said.

The Wildcats will see an abundance of schools this season throughout meets in S.D and Neb, with Wayne State hosting a cross country meet for the first time since 2014. The WSC Wildcat Classic takes place on September 29. The NSIC Championship is set for November 3rd in Abeerden, S.D.

As for the NSIC, the women were picked to finish 14th in the Preseason NSIC Coaches’ Poll, and the men were slated to finish 10th. Brink believes that both teams can exceed those expectations.

“I think that they can both do better than that,” Brink said. “Our goal is to really finish better than we did last year. Ideally, if you can finish in the top half of the conference, that would be a pretty good accomplishment.”

Brink believes both the men and women have the potential to reach those goals but understands that it will be a challenging task with how deep the conference is.

“Our conference is super tough.” Brink said. We’ve got some of the best teams in Division II in our conference. Everybody has to stay healthy. If everybody makes big improvements that could happen.”

While there are many things Brink enjoys when it comes to heading the cross country program, a few aspects stand out to him every year.

“I like seeing the way the athletes develop over the course of the season,” Brink said. “If you just look from the first week of practice until the last week of practice, how they make improvements and grow as a runner and an athlete. I enjoy that part of it. Having and wanting to be a competitive team is fun too.”

An important aspect in improving and fulfilling potential is good chemistry amongst the team. Brink sees that the team gets along well, helping and pushing each other through each and every practice.

Characteristics like these are certain to provide what will be a fun and successful season for Wildcat Cross Country.