The University of Northern Colorado’s cross-country team raced in Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday, September 17th. The men’s team placed 13th out of 29 teams and the women’s team placed 6th.
Sophomore Isaac Rascon placed 105th in the men’s 8K course.
“It was a great atmosphere, especially for the incoming transfers and freshman that might not have experienced that before, but this one there were people lined up,” Rascon said. “There were people at every point of the course which you cannot say for most cross-country races.”
This was the team’s second race of the season. They aim high and works hard during practice. Team members work out most days of the week around 6 a.m. and practice at various locations in Greeley. This allows for different muscle groups to work. The team practices smoothly running hills by doing hill repeats, allowing them to get faster during a race.
Jessie Hayward is a senior kinesiology major who placed 23rd in the men’s 8K course.
“I think that overall, almost every single one of us set a PR (personal record),” Hayward said. “I think a lot of us have set really high goals for ourselves. I think that not all of us achieved our goals, but we overshot what we thought we were going to hit.”
During this race the coaches gave the runners a plan. The goal was to keep their pace until 3 kilometers, almost 2 miles, for the girls, and 5 kilometers, about 3 miles, for the boys. From that point they would use all of what they had left for the rest of the race. This allowed for many team members to hit their best times.
Chloe Rylance, a sophomore biology major, placed 30th in the women’s 5k race.
“There were about 400 people at this race,” Rylance said. “So, we wanted to get out fast so we didn’t get boxed in. At the start of the race, we are in a pen, so it is two of each of my teammates across. So, it was important for me to get out fast so that everyone else behind me could get out..”
This race was on a golf course and had some hills. Many runners use the downhills to stretch out their strides to pass other runners. In cross country, the team with the lowest score based off runner’s places wins. It is common to see multiple teams finish close together. This is called packing. It allows a team to be able to get this score. For the boys there is a pack of three that tries to stick together for the race: Rascon, Hayward and teammate Zachary Wells. These three often finish close together.
“Seeing your teammates gives you the confidence to be like, ‘Hey, I train with them so I can hang with them,’” Rascon said. “It motivates them to push harder.”
There is a great relationship between the teammates. They often spend time outside of practice and races together, traveling to places such as Moab, Utah for spring break. They have become great friends for their sport and outside their sport.
“I’ve heard from transfers that say that we have one of the best team environments,” Rylance said. “We are all good friends. It is all so competitive so there are a lot of negative connotations surrounding that. Isaac has been training so hard and putting big miles in this summer. He PR’ed in the last race but he was a bit disappointed this weekend.”
The team has a break between races. They have continued practices in the afternoons. They will race on October 1st in Texas, at a lower elevation and flatter.