The men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed in the UTA Cross Country Invite at the Jesse Owens Memorial Athletic Complex on Friday. In August, the Sun Belt Conference released its Preseason Poll, projecting the men’s team to finish in third place and the women’s team to finish in fifth place.
Both of UTA’s cross-country teams finished in third place, with the men’s team scoring 58 and the women’s scoring 64. The University of North Texas took top spots in the men’s and women’s races, with the men scoring 28 and the women scoring 32. Texas State University came in second place in both men’s and women’s races.
Senior Madeleine Rowe came in sixth place overall and first place for the Mavericks with a time of 12:17, while Valeria Diaz-Gonzales came in seventh place overall with a time of 12:18.
After finishing top 10 in her race, Rowe said there is room for improvement, not only individually, but as a team. She went on to say they would usually have meets under their belt by now, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meets were postponed or canceled.
“We didn’t get to train as a team as long as we normally do. We’re used to having practice ages ago by now,” Rowe said. “We’ve had to hold off and play it by ear a lot.”
Rowe said she saw positives out of Friday’s race, saying her team showed a lot of heart and personal responsibility.
“We’ve all got to be careful in the crowds, but we’re all warming up in our masks even though it's a little bit hard to run with the mask on,” Rowe said. “And we’re all kind of fighting, you know, all of us are hurting a little bit here and there.”
Head coach John Sauerhage was happy they competed and expects his team to improve in the next few weeks. He understood that competing was an accomplishment due to the layoff caused by the pandemic.
“We just didn’t perform as well today as I was hoping, but at the same time, we’re going to have a good season,” Sauerhage said. “We didn't get the result today like we were looking for, but at the same time, we made a lot of progress.”
In order to improve for the next event, Sauerhage said his team needs to respond to the training better. He said his team has gotten off to starts like this in the past and then had better seasons as they got going.
“It's just a matter of trusting that this thing is gonna hurt a little bit and shifting gears when the first little wave of pain sets in and responding to it and getting back up on the horse and riding,” Sauerhage said.
Sauerhage said he was impressed by the way the women's team ran and how they competed. He said they were aggressive and showed more fire than they do in practice.
On the men's team, sophomore Jack Myers came in third place overall and finished first for the Mavericks with a time of 20:29.
Myers said his performance was tiring, but the thought of his teammates helped him get through the race. He said thinking of his teammates made it worth it.
The third-place finish was the highest of Myers' career during his time at UTA. Prior to Friday’s race, his highest placing at a competition was in the Sun Belt Conference Championships, where he placed twentieth.
Myers also said he can improve his next race by being more conservative with his energy so he doesn’t die off toward the end.
During the off time, Myers had to get creative with his workouts so he could stay in shape. He said he would have to stay self-motivated and took an unconventional approach.
“I would run in the woods and get lost just to make [working out] more exciting,” he said.
Myers said his goal for this season is to go top 10 at conference and score for the team. He said he wants to be a good teammate.
The cross-country teams’ next scheduled event is the Arturo Barrios Invitational on Oct. 17 in College Station.