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Men's and women's cross country is motivated, ready for successful season

by Rebecca Smith,
  • File Photo.

One point can make a big difference. After last year's Elon Invitational Oct. 31, Elon University cross country learned about this difference — the difference between first and second place for the women's team. After being so close to success, the motivation is palpable this year.

"To win conference would be our biggest goal," senior Emily Fournier said. "We were one point shy last year. It's a huge reminder that every single person and point counts. One point can be the difference between winning and losing a championship. Know that everyone returning this year is very familiar with the feeling of being one point behind."

Last season the women's team finished with a program-best second-place finish in the Southern Conference Championship meet. The men's team finished fifth out of 11 teams.

"Last year, for both men and women it was their most successful seasons in Elon's history, so we're trying to build on that," head coach Christine Engel said.

In June, the cross country teams started training for the season with guidelines from Engel.

"We're going to make sure we pay attention to every detail as far as training goes," senior Justin Gianni said. "Not just by running but make sure we're keeping on top of conditioning, abdomen strength and stretching.  Because we do have a strong team, we want to make sure that we keep a strong mentality."

The men's team is looking at a strong season, Engle said, especially since it is bringing back the top two players, co-captains senior Matt Richardson and Gianni.

"We will have to see how our team will recover,.Both of the captains will be graduating," Gianni said. "Our goal is to prepare the team to be able to accommodate for those losses."

One of the top female runners, Cate Beeler, graduated last year. Engel said she feels the team will come back strong. She is the only person who competed in the regional championship that graduated, and 10 freshman girls were added to the team.

"We have 25 girls, so we have a very full team," Fournier said. "I think we are going to see a lot of seniors stepping up and taking leadership roles."

A new meet has been added at the beginning of the season — the Covered Bridge Open on Sept.3, 2010. This meet will take place in Boone, N.C., and is the same course the teammates will run during the SoCon Championship.

"We are doing it earlier in the season so we can go and see the course and have more time to learn the course and strategize throughout the year," Gianni said. "We also don't want to race the course two weeks in a row at the end. We can mentally prepare the whole season."

Both teams will be competing in four meets and the SoCon championship.  After the successful season last year, both teams have high goals for this season.

"I think both men and women are really motivated after last year," Engel said. "I think they gained a lot of confidence after that success. They are training very hard right now. They really believe that they can be successful."