Sports Staff Writer
After winning last year, the UNC Asheville men’s and women’s cross country teams hope to recreate their success at the 2018 Asheville Invitational on Sept. 21.
Sage Turner, a runner for the men’s cross country team at UNCA, began running cross country in the eighth grade.
“I like to do a lot of visualization. Imagine myself running the race before and get a lot of sleep. I love pizza the night before, it’s my go to,” Turner said.
Matt Barrera has been running cross country since his freshman year of college. He prepares for races a little differently than Turner.
“I don’t like thinking about races much before they happen, I psych myself out. I don’t really think about the race until the day of and then I get excited. I like competing out there,” Barrera said.
Although Barrera and Turner have different approaches to preparing for races, they share similar goals for racing.
“During a race, just competing with the front pack is a goal. I want to win every race, but as long as I’m in the front pack I’ve fulfilled the goal,just want to give myself a chance at the end,” Turner said.
One does not need to win in order to contribute to the success of the team in cross country.
“So, as long as I’m tight with those three guys, I know coach and our teammates will be happy with that. As long as I’m up there, pushing it, putting myself in there.”
Jesse Norman, the cross country coach, explained how the scoring at this meet will work.
“Whatever place you finish in is how many points you get. So if you finish first you get one point, if you finish tenth you get 10 points. Then what they’ll do is they’ll add up all of those and the smallest score is the winner,” Norman said.
Norman talked about the teams that are in the event, and also noted that more than one team have asked to compete in the event after losing a meet due to Hurricane Florence.
“Right now, there is about seven to 15 runners per team. So we should be coming in with about 100 athletes per event. Right now I think we’re at 10 teams for this event, counting us. Were getting a lot of people that got canceled last weekend that are now searching for some meets, so I had to kind of put it on lock down so it didn’t get to big,” Noram said.
Cross country is a very difficult sport physically. Running and training at practice every day can definitely take a tole on a runner’s legs and body.
“Well this week they’re on a recovery week, so they’re just taking it easy. We dropped their volume down a little bit, kind of made workouts a little bit easier. To kind of freshen their legs up. We’ve been beating on them pretty hard in practice the last couple of weeks. More right now, at this point in the season it is about getting them mentally ready to run,” Norman said.
Recovery weeks are crucial in a lot of sports. Cross country is included in that list, with runners going for more than five miles in a day sometimes.
“They’re not going to feel 100 percent fresh and they’ve got to realize that and still battle through it. Because really we’re trying to get them ready for the end of October and for conference championships.”
Norman said he just wants his team to do their best because that is all you can ask of athletes.
“Looking for them just to be competitive. If they can come out, we’ve got a couple good teams that are going to be in there, so if they can come in there and win it I think that would be good. But really just looking for a good hard effort to get us ready for ECU and conference,” Norman said.
The Asheville Invitational is the bulldog’s only home meet this season. The results will be on the UNCA website.