After strong finishes by both the men’s and women’s cross country teams at the Heps finals, the Red is headed to Hamonnasset, Conn. for the NCAA Northeast Regional meet. At this point in the season, coaches are restricted to fielding a squad of only seven runners for the NCAA regional meet.
According to women’s cross country coach Artie Smith ’96, selecting the team he wanted to field was both easy and difficult.
“On the one hand it’s easy, but it’s also tough,” he said. “It’s easy because there are certain athletes I know can run well, but it’s tough because we have such a deep team. Part of the reason we’ve been so good this year is because we’ve had great depth.”
Men’s cross country coach Zeb Lang ’03 said that he based his selection on individual performances up to this point.
“I selected our team based on performance up to date,” he said. “It’s my best seven to date that I’ll be taking to the NCAA Regional championships.”
While he’s happy that his team won the Heps, Smith spoke about how his team’s goal was to remain competitive all season, even beyond the Heps.
“I would say that with this group, the reason they were successful at the Heps is because they have aspirations of being successful above the Heps,” he said. “They’ve had the goal the whole season of being successful at the national level, and I think their focus has been consistent and straightforward all season.”
Lang echoed those sentiments, and went on to describe how his team has performed according to his expectations up to this point in the season, a team he characterizes as being very resilient.
“These guys have exceeded my expectations,” he said. “Every time we’ve had adversity or a bump in the road, they’ve responded. We’ve had younger guys step to the forefront and raise their game to another level.”
As one of the top teams in the Northeast Region, the women’s team is expected to fare well this weekend against the rest of the Northeast. Smith feels that his team doesn’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to compete well.
“They don’t need to do anything different or anything special,” he said. “If they continue to put in the effort and be competitive, they’ll be doing what they need to do.”
While the men’s team is not as highly regarded as the women are, Lang is still very optimistic about his team’s potential.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “We’re currently ranked 6th in the Northeast after the conference meet. We’re hoping to compete as well as we can against the teams in the Northeast.”
According to Lang, anything can happen.
“Who knows, we may have a surprise,” he said.