Conference USA cross country championship begins this weekend in Denton

Conference USA cross country championship begins this weekend in Denton

November 01
17:26 2013

Akshay Mirchandani / Staff Writer

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams have finished inside the top five in their meets this year and look to carry that into this weekend, where they will compete in the Conference USA championships in Denton on Saturday.

“A lot has changed this year,” sophomore Troy Taylor said. “We got a lot of new guys in, and even though some of us are still the same I feel like we’re new. We changed a lot and we’re taking training really serious and since we’re doing so well that kind of fuels our success.”

Part of the change has been the addition of new head coach Stefanie Slekis, who has brought a new style of coaching to the men’s and women’s teams.

“A lot of them have really connected with the style of training that I have, as well as my coaching style in terms of the mental preparation that we focus on before every meet,” Slekis said.

The C-USA championships over the weekend will be preparation for the NCAA South Central Regional Championships in Waco on Nov. 15. The players would be satisfied with a top three finish.

“Finishing in the top three in conference is huge momentum, especially moving into Conference USA, where you are competing against teams that are ranked well in the region and even teams that make it to the national championship,” Slekis said.

Going into this weekend, part of the challenge for the Mean Green will be going up against teams that the players have not seen before – such as Rice University, the University of Texas-San Antonio and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

“We’re not going in blind, but we really don’t know because it’s a new conference,” senior Jo Adams said. “We’ve got high goals of what we want to achieve as a team and individually. We don’t want too much pressure on us, but at the same time we just want to do the best we can.”

Adams has been one of the top runners on the women’s side, while Taylor had the top finish for the men in the Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival on Oct. 5.

One of the advantages the Mean Green will have in this tournament is that it is in Denton. The two squads also hosted the Ken Garland Northwest High School Invitational earlier this year that saw the men finish first and the women in second.

“Having a home field advantage in cross country is huge,” Slekis said. “In cross country, every course is different so it’s a huge advantage that we know those 8,000 or 5,000 meters better than any other team that’s going to come.”

The course is at the Old Eagle Point Golf Course in Denton and the competition site opens at 7 a.m. on Saturday.

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