Sophomore middle distance runner Alex Skinner trains on the track at Welch stadium for the first cross-country meet of the semester on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Wichita State.
Will Austin/The Bulletin
On Aug. 15, the MIAA released the pre-season cross country polls. The Emporia State men are ranked 9 out of 9 teams, while the women are ranked 10 out of 11, an expected turnout after both teams placed last at the conference met last year.
Last year, both teams had quite a few freshmen pulling their weight on the team – the seven that made up the women’s conference team were all first-year collegiate runners. This year, however, the teams are made up of all returners, except two freshmen women and two freshmen men. Eric Wellman, head coach, said that a runner’s first year is mainly a learning experience.
“They can come into the program and learn the system, while providing some depth to the team,” Wellman said.
Because of the high returner percentage, Wellman said he expects overall improvement for the 2013 season.
Due to the monotonous training distance runners endure, especially over the summer, Wellman said he has been trying to introduce new things this year and the athletes have even hit the gym a few times since practice started.
“Practice has been going really well. It’s a lot of fun,” said Emily Schoenfeld, freshman psychology major. “I’m extremely nervous (for the first meet) but also really excited. I am hoping to run close to my high school PRs (personal records), but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
On the men’s side, Wellman said fans should watch out for Daniel Claassen, sophomore, and Jacob Bull, junior, who had some difficulties in previous seasons.
Taylor Stueve, sophomore elementary education, the top runner on the women’s side, will also be returning for the 2013 season.
“My personal expectations for the season are to beat all of my previous best times from last year and to lead our team to become better,” Stueve said. “My goal for our team is to make regionals in South Dakota.”
Both Scheonfeld and Stueve said they are especially looking forward to the infamous Rim Rock 6k race in Lawrence.
“I have heard it is very hilly and difficult and I’m excited to encounter that,” Stueve said.
ESU will host an inter-squad practice meet with themselves and Newman at Jones Park on Saturday. Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel to Augusta for the first official meet of the season, the J.K. Gold Classic, on Sept. 7.