Men’s Cross Country Chasing Big Goals
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For the Whitman College men’s cross country team, the 2013 season has brought a new attitude about conference, the team and each runner. New goals have been set, practices have improved and results at races both individually and team-wide have reflected this new mentality.
“So far this season, the team has run better than I have ever seen since I’ve been at Whitman. We are consistently beating teams we usually lose to, most notably Whitworth,” said junior Colin Domonoske.
At the recent Erik Anderson Invitational, the top five Whitman runners finished within 24 seconds of each other, something new for a team that usually has two or three runners leading the pack and a couple rounding out the scoring much later in the race. This newfound success can’t be attributed to any one element, but there are indeed multiple aspects of the team that are new this year that haven’t necessarily been as prominent in years past.
First, the first-year contingent has been excellent this year. Not only have they been competing well, but are also consistently pushing their older teammates, which has in turn made everyone quite a bit faster.
“Alex Waheed, Matt Wotipka, Stanley Walker and Caleb Moosman are the first-years who have impressed me to the upmost level and push the team,” said Domonoske.
The heightened level of competition bodes well for numerous runners this season as they look to set new personal records and fall under certain times by the end of the season.
“There are a couple runners already looking to break 26 minutes [in the 8,000 meter, which would mean averaging 5:25 per mile] and I’m looking to break a 26:30. I’m already getting close to that, so I hope to break that and then push to maybe break 26 minutes also,” said junior Carl Garrett.
Senior Spencer Corwin shared similar sentiments, but also had a couple unique personal goals.
“I really just want to change the attitude of the team from what it’s been in previous years. And I also haven’t PRed since I was a first-year, so I’d like to do that,” said Corwin.
The previous attitude Corwin is referring to is a general lack of a true competitive hunger to place in the conference.
“In previous years we never had any team goals; we never talked about what we wanted to accomplish. So now we’re out to actually accomplish things, and we set some team goals and it’s really a good attitude. Very competitive,” said Corwin.
By setting reachable goals week by week, each runner is able to improve his times throughout the season and so far, the team is improving significantly.
“We’re just trying to get better and better and better. To not settle and train strategically so we can run our best at our conference race and place top three in the conference,” said Domonoske.
Though each runner has his own personal goals for the season, the success of each person only goes as far as the team’s success. However, that isn’t an issue this year due to the overall team dynamic that has developed. Younger runners are pushing the veterans to be better and at the same time, the older runners have a lot of knowledge to offer their younger teammates.
“Most of these young guys have never run an 8K before. It’s a totally different race than a 5K or anything else. Other than that, there’s a lot of experience between the older guys, and we can give tips on how different courses should be run,” said Garrett.
Corwin agrees, seeing the benefits of teamwork on individual performances.
“I think we can’t overlook the team aspect of an otherwise individual sport. In the end, top five guys score, but in training everyday, everyone is there pushing each other the whole time,” said Corwin.
One reason each runner is pushed so hard every practice is the presence of a large team. There is always a teammate able to push someone else with similar running ability.
“A lot of our strength has come from the fact that we have a big team. We’re not just looking at two or three people who are way out in front, it’s more of everyone right in there together,” said Garrett.
This year before each race, the team gathers in a hotel room to go over what each runner expects of himself and the team and pump each other up about the race to come. The acknowledgement of goals has probably been the biggest difference this year, and so far it really seems to be paying off.
“I feel like every day I get better and as long as I keep up with and challenge the rest of the top guys, I will continue to run faster and help the team,” said Domonoske.
Collectively everyone on the team seems extremely positive about how this season is going so far, and will continue to progress this season.
“I’d say this is one of the best teams we’ve had in a long time, possibly like the last 10 years,” said Corwin.
The team will look to build on its early success at the Lewis and Clark Invitational this weekend.