By Leanne Vastbinder, Opinions and Online Editor
The Cross Country teams have one more meet remaining until the end of their season.
Both men’s and women’s teams finished their conference play at the MIAA Championship meet on Oct. 26 and are preparing for the NCAA Regional Tournament in a little over a week.
At the MIAA Championship meet last week, the men’s team placed 11th, and the women took 12th place.
Junior Alex Ultreras said he and his team members didn’t finish the way they wanted to but they are excited to continue improving for next season.
“We came a long way from the beginning of the year. We went out there and gave it our best. I can’t ask for anything more than that,” Ultreras said. “The team now understands what it’s going to take to be at the same level of our competition, which is running more miles, building mental strength, and keeping our bodies healthy.”
At the end of the season, Ultreras said, he hopes to qualify as an academic All-American.
Head Coach Josh Shepis said the season hasn’t produced the results that everyone hoped for but the team has had a lot of growth throughout the season.
“It’s kind of a rebuilding year from the standpoint of having so many new faces, but we accomplished a lot of individual goals this year with time and, at the end of the day, that’s what Cross Country is about, trying to get faster,” Shepis said.
Shepis said the team has had a lot of growth on the women’s side.
“We lost our top two runners from last year. That definitely had some bearing on our performances,” Shepis said. “However, we’ve had some girls step up and they’re running better than last year. Klair Gibson is running at a top level, and Lauren Nutting ran her fastest time ever this past week.”
Overall, Shepis said, he is looking forward to the upcoming NCAA Regional and building the team’s momentum going into next year.
“It gives me a lot of encouragement to know that what we’re doing is working, because we are running very fast times at the end of the year and the kids are buying into the system. We’ll have some confidence next year coming in with some belief in what we’re doing,” Shepis said.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete at the NCAA Central Regional Tournament on Nov. 9 in Joplin, Missouri.
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics