For many students summer marks the beginning of rest, relaxation and a break from the rigors of college.
But for the athletes of CSU’s men and women’s cross-country teams summer brings the beginning of a new season.
“All summer I’ve been doing steady, consistent training,” said junior Bill Michel, who led the men’s cross-country team to a birth at nationals last season. “This summer I was training to stay fresh and get a good base for the season.”
According to sophomore Mike Nicks, the rest of the men’s team has followed Michel’s lead.
“We just kept it simple,” he said. “We kept it to one run a day and about 80 to 85 miles per week.”
Nicks added that the team’s consistent training regime has kept them healthy and in excellent shape going into Saturday’s intra-squad meet, the CSU Open.
“Everyone is in better shape than they were last year,” he said.
With the team running healthy and strong, Michel said the competition for the top nine varsity positions is closer than it has ever been.
“We have 10 to 12 guys fighting to make the top nine,” he said.
However, Michel was quick to add that such heady competition is not a bad thing.
“It shows how deep we are as a team,” he said. “This is the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
With several runners returning from last season’s team, which finished No. 22 overall at nationals, and some new faces providing depth, Michel said the team expects to reach new heights.
“Our goal is to win conference and give a great performance at nationals,” he said. “We know we have the team to do it.”
Though the men’s team is aiming at marks it has never before achieved, the women’s team is just looking to get everyone healthy.
According to senior Marget Larson, several athletes on the women’s team are still recovering from injuries sustained during the 2002 outdoor track season, leaving them unable to train at a high level during the summer.
“Our mileage has not been as high as in the past,” she said. “But I feel good about the miles we’ve done. It’s a good base to build on.”
Senior teammate Kim Leal agreed.
“A lot of our team is still recovering from injuries,” she said. “But we know that our best running needs to come in November. It’s a long season and we have time to get where we need to be.”
Leal added, however, that due to the team’s lack of depth, avoiding injuries is imperative.
“We have about five steady girls running right now,” she said. “We are not as deep as in the past so we need to be careful to avoid injuries.”
Though lack of depth and less training does not normally make a team successful, Larson said both factors could help the team more than hurt it.
“I don’t think we’ll be as tired when the season concludes,” she said. “I think we will be able to peak at the right time and race well when we need to race well.”