CHARLESTON, S.C. – The men's and women's cross country teams are on their way to face their greatest challenge this season, The Big South Conference Championship in Lynchburg, Va. All 10 Big South members will compete in the women's 5k and the men's 8k. The Buccaneer team consists of nine men and seven women who will take on the fierce competition on the course at Liberty University, on Saturday, October 28th.
"Racing well at this time of the season comes down to mental toughness and executing the race plan. I hope we can put together everything we've learned earlier in the season and apply it on Saturday," said Jim Stintzi, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country.
The male and female Buccaneers made a strong comeback after a couple weeks of battling the flu. The whole team paid extra attention to recovery, proper nutrition and effective execution at practice.
"I'm feeling good about our training leading up to the Championship. Our last few workouts have been our strongest and most productive of the year. I think both teams are confident heading into the weekend," Stintzi explained.
Senior Kaitlyn Keene and Sophomore Jeryck Wilson are excited about the progress of the whole team and believe in top performances. The race strategy of every individual is slightly different, but everyone knows what they need to do. Now it is only a matter of following through.
"We are a force to be reckoned with," said Wilson. "Go out hard and stay in position, fight with the other guys. Move up with the top pack and stay," Wilson explained, when describing his race strategy.
Keene, a nursing major with several years of experience in the cross country program, states that the outlook on the Conference Championship is better than ever.
"I'm expecting us to do very well compared to previous years. We already have 4 of us running faster than our fastest girl last year, so it will be exciting to see what we can do this year," Keene said, when describing the situation of the women's team.
Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach, Aaron Iaun, who has been mentoring the women's team, believes that the team could use the element of surprise and perform even better than expected.
"The team as a whole has not put it all together on the same day, so I think we come into Conference a bit under the radar. We have an opportunity to really surprise people," said Aaron Iaun, Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach.
Iaun and Stintzi hope that the the whole team will continue to improve like the runners have done throughout the season. Ultimately, this weekend could be the beginning of a new era at Charleston Southern University.
"I would rather look forward than back and say this weekend is hopefully the start of a new era at CSU in distance running," concluded Stintzi.
The male Buccaneers will hit the action at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The women's race will shoot off at 11:30, on the campus of Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va.