Finally being able to compete in a cross country race alongside her twin sister is only one of the many things that April Thomas is looking forward to in her last year as a Ram.
Both Thomas and her twin, Melissa, have been plagued by injuries, which kept them from running a collegiate race together. Now, with both of them healthy, Thomas can’t wait to share this season with her sister.
“It should be fun traveling together,” Thomas said.
She also has the perks of having a built-in fan section; they are both very supportive of each other.
With a solid women’s squad and a men’s team looking to improve on what they started last year, Thomas and the rest of the CSU cross country team is excited for the upcoming season.
“I definitely know we can perform a lot better than last year,” said Thomas.
Coach Bryan Berryhill, in his second year as head coach, is also pumped up for the season.
“I am looking forward to getting into bigger meets and watching the team grow from last year to this year,” Berryhill said.
With the women’s team finishing second in the conference and 23rd in the nation last year, the goal of winning the conference is on the horizon.
“The women’s team looks solid and we are good through nine spots,” Berryhill said. The top-five runners of a cross country meet contribute to the team score.
The women’s team was picked to finish second in the preseason Mountain West Conference poll and one of the main reasons is the return of Thomas, who is a biology major.
Last year Thomas was only two spots away from being recognized as an All-American. This year her season-end goal is to earn that recognition instead of coming so terribly close.
Thomas has high hopes for her teammates, as well.
“I would love to see us in the top-15 and anything above this is a bonus,” she said.
Berryhill believes that Thomas will be leading the strong women’s team to the top finishes that she is looking forward to.
“There is quite a bit of depth to back her up,” Berryhill said.
Not only is Thomas at the heart of her team, she also carries a 4.0 GPA.
“I know I can get A’s, so why wouldn’t I get them?” she said. “With running, it’s the same mentality. I just do what I know I can do.”
On the other side, the men’s team placed third in the conference last year, and although there isn’t a clear leader right now, Berryhill wants to focus on getting stronger and increasing the number of miles run during practice. Currently the women run 50-70 miles per week, while the men log 60-90 miles.
One of the highlights of this season is the addition of a home meet, which hasn’t been held for three years. The Colorado State Classic will be Sept. 15 and will be run on the property surrounding Hughes Stadium.
With local support for the team very high, Berryhill is looking forward to this meet.
“It gives the community an opportunity to come out and watch us in person,” he said.
Although Thomas has many goals for herself and her team, she is realistic about her ambitions.
“I have these goals, but I’m not going to let them rule my life,” Thomas said.
But with goals that include staying healthy, running her best, staying positive and helping her team be the best she can, Thomas shouldn’t be too disappointed in their outcomes.
Cross country beat reporter Anica Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org