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The Scarlet & Black

Men’s cross country warms up for the Duke

The men’s cross country team prepares for tomorrow’s Les Duke Invitational. Photo by Sarah Trop.

The men’s cross country team kicked off the season with a race last weekend at the Central College Invitational. Although the team finished sixth overall among seven teams, the placement was not so much of a concern for the runners.

“We didn’t finish that high in the meet, but that’s because we were doing a workout,” said Adam Dalton ’16. “We literally went there to run a workout and we weren’t even there to compete.”

A cross country workout signifies an aerobic threshold where each runner runs continuously at a certain pace for a mile. This allows athletes to ease into the latter part of their race as well as prepare themselves for upcoming races.

More importantly, Central College hosts this season’s NCAA Division III Regional Championships. Therefore, by using the event as a practice threshold run, the event allowed the team to familiarize themselves with the route.

The men’s cross country team prepares for tomorrow’s Les Duke Invitational. Photo by Sarah Trop.
The men’s cross country team prepares for tomorrow’s Les Duke Invitational. Photo by Sarah Trop.

Every year, the men’s team opens up its season with this running strategy. Although the overall team results are not satisfying, Evan Griffith ’15 explained that the effort alone was fulfilling.

“The idea is that we’re peaking for Conference, Regionals and Nationals,” Griffith said. “The way that works in running is you don’t want to go too fast really early. We had a really consistent effort and I thought … it was a good workout, a good effort and it should prepare us well for the season.”

Up next for the cross country team is the Les Duke Invitational this Saturday and it seems like the runners are prepared, according to head coach Will Freeman.

“We have a lot of runners who are very fit for this time of the season,” he said.

The Les Duke race is an exciting meet for the runners not only because it is the only home meet but also because it is the first official race the Pioneers will run.

“This time we’re going to race,” Dalton affirmed. “We’re really going to show people what we’re capable of [this] weekend.”

One of the things that makes Les Duke special for the College is the fact that it is an open race that welcomes alumni, professors and students to participate and enjoy.

“It’s one of the few races where anyone—literally anyone—can enter in the race for free who isn’t associated with the team,” Dalton said. “So we have a lot of alums come back because it’s free for them and the public which is super rare anywhere.”

And as Freeman said, “[The race is] just for the guys to have fun and run as hard as their current fitness allows.”

Looking ahead to the remaining season, the Pioneers are mainly concerned with solidifying the top five runners.

“We have a solid top four and that fifth spot is open, so we want to see who’ll fit the spot,” Griffith said.

But as a collective group with experienced runners as well as talented first-years, Griffith explained that the main concern is the uncertainty that often comes with racing.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty racing for the first time,” he explained. “So the goal as a collective group is to help each other through that and have a good experience.”

The Pioneers will test that uncertainty tomorrow at the Les Duke at 10 a.m., held at Oakland Acres.Shuttles will be available from in front of the Natatorium starting at 8 a.m. and will be available every 30 minutes. When the race is over, the shuttle will transport the students back to the College.

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