By Rayne Brown
Baylor’s cross country will host the Big 12 cross country championship on Saturday. The meet will take place at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco. Men and women’s cross country teams will compete in the race. In their last meet of the regular season, women’s cross country placed 31st as a team while the men came in 49th. Junior Rachel Johnson and senior Brad Miles led their teams, placing 59 and 198 respectively.
Both teams have had a solid season, but hope to do better in the championship meet.
“I need a bigger push up front,” assistant head coach Jon Capron said. “My middle in the pack has been running amazing, sort of over-performing a little bit. My guys that are in the front, I have one senior Brad, he needs the bigger push. He needs to get in the top 20 if he can. That’ll really help our score.”
While trying to improve before Saturday’s meet, cross country is using the fact that they are at home to its advantage. The teams practice on the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course throughout the regular season, so runners are familiar with the terrain. With the championship meet being on this course, the teams are specifying their practices to race simulation.
“The nice part about having it at home is we’re doing it on exactly the same course,” Capron said. “It’s the exact same route so they should feel pretty at home doing what we’ve asked them to do come race time.”
Running a familiar course is going to benefit the team and it might also push them to run harder.
Capron said knowing the course, knowing where to expect pain, and knowing how close the finish line is can sometimes give the team that push to run harder and faster, making them hurt more than they thought they could.
Philadelphia seniors Brad Miles believes the team will pull through the pain with a little mental toughness.
“We know the course better than anybody else,” Miles said. “Knowing where the hills are, where we’re going to feel some pain, where we’re really going to feel some pain and just being able to push through them is going to definitely be in our favor.”
Both cross country teams are acknowledging and improving their weaknesses in preparation for Saturday’s meet. That, along with race simulations, mental preparation and the advantage of a familiar course, have the teams going into the championship with high hopes.
“Big 12 championships are always a big deal for me,” junior Mariah Kelly said. “So the way I prepare is, I just kind of treat it like every other day because every day I go out there and I prepare to have a hard day of work. A meet is no different. It’s going to be hard, but really all the training is done so all I have to do is get ready mentally. I just try to remember that my teammates are out there fighting. I’m a leader on the team so I have to be fighting 10 times harder and pull them along.”