This Friday the Colorado State cross-country team will kick off its 2008 season by competing in the Wyoming Invitational in Laramie, Wyo.
The team anticipates a good performance from every runner in the first meet – a coed race – and to finish high in the standings.
“It’s an opportunity to see guys racing and get an idea of how everyone does (in competition),” said runner Jeremy Freed, a junior.
In preparation for the invitational and the upcoming season, the men’s and women’s teams went to Pingree Park, CSU’s mountain campus, to do some team bonding. While there, the team trained their bodies and exercised their trust in one another while grappling with ropes course and other team-building activities.
Sophomore Jake Keyser returned home with a positive outlook for the season.
“We had quite a few new faces at team camp and practices,” he said. “We have good chemistry and good group of guys this year.”
Coach Bryan Berryhill is optimistic about the team’s talent level. “We have the most talented team we’ve ever had, but we also have the youngest team too,” he said. “The biggest question is how close the team comes.”
“It was good to have everyone together and encouraging to see the team come together quickly,” said sophomore Allison Gohl.
The Rams are following a successful season and are expecting to continue that success in 2008.
“We have great team potential, a lot of new people and good returning leaders,” said senior Kristen Hemphill.
Hemphill is anticipated to be a leader herself, along with senior Kirsten Anthony who finished just ahead of April Thomas in the NCAA championship race last season, and sophomore Allison Gohl who was named MWC Freshman of the Year.
Gohl realizes that she is expected to perform well.
“I expect a lot of myself,” she said. “I don’t really feel pressure. I just use the gifts given to me and to do my best for the team.”
While the men’s team was ranked fourth in the Mountain West Conference preseason rankings this year – they were third in 2007 – the women’s team was ranked No. 1 – an improvement from their 2007 ranking of fourth.
The improved standing is largely due to the women’s efforts last season. They finished first in the Mountain West Conference and 15th in the NCAA national championship race.
The women’s team lost five runners from last year’s team that competed in the NCAA championship race.
“Due to the loss of seasoned runners, both teams will have to rely on the new recruits and young runners this year,” Berryhill said.
Returning runners said that the new runners will help take the team to the next level.
“We are excited to have the new freshman and transfers,” Anthony said. “We are going to have a strong team. We have the same goals as last year – to win conference and regionals, and to do better at nationals.”
Both Hemphill and Anthony, seniors, have minor injuries, but are not expected to miss any competitions.
Hemphill has a stress reaction from the strain of the long runs, and Anthony has a mild hip flexor strain.
While the women look to hold on to their No. 1 ranking, the men are looking to improve upon their fourth place finish in the MWC championship last year.
“The biggest thing is to improve upon efforts of a year ago,” Berryhill said.
Leading the men’s team this year will be Jeremy Freed and MWC Freshman of the Year, Jake Keyser.
The men’s team has a new face from New Zealand. The addition is transfer student and sophomore Daniel Wallis.
“We are looking forward to a national race and to do well when we get there,” Freed said. “We have the talent to do it this year, we need to pull together as a team and we’ll have a good chance to race well.”
Staff writer Scott Callahan can be reached at email@example.com.