This weekend, the cross country teams will run in their largest race of the season with more than 80 colleges and universities and more 600 runners.
The NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. will feature 16 of the top 20 nationally ranked women’s teams and 15 of the top 20 men’s teams.
Five Mountain West teams, including the Rams, will make an appearance as well.
The Rams are coming off a rough race in Oregon two weeks ago, where neither team did as well as expected.
But they seem hopeful and excited to move on and gain momentum again.
“We are excited for another chance, for another race and a fresh start,” said sophomore runner Allison Gohl.
“We are a lot more prepared and confident to have that (Oregon) race behind us.”
Looking forward, the team has been preparing for the pre-National race for the past two weeks. They are working on their main goal of running as a team and regaining the chemistry that is so important to a successful race.
The Rams want to establish their position at the front of the race early and keep up with the top teams in the country.
The massive number of runners this week will be a new experience for the Rams, especially the young runners.
“Mentally it’s just a different game with that many competitors you have got to get good position early in the race,” said head coach Bryan Berryhill. “Our plan is to get out hard, be tough and hang on for the rest of the race.”
The women will compete at 11:35 a.m. in a 6,000-meter race, which is just less than four miles.
The men will compete at 12:50 p.m. in an 8,000-meter race, which is almost five miles.
The course that the teams will be running is the same course as the NCAA Championship race in late November.
Jeremy Freed, a junior runner, said, “It’s one of the best opportunities to race the best teams and be on a national course.”
Cross country beat writer Scott Callahan can be reached at email@example.com.