A new month brings a new set of challenges to the Maroons, as both the men and women will head south to St. Louis tomorrow for the UAA Championships, their first of two championship tournaments taking place this month.
The women are hoping to defend their back-to-back titles, from 2012 and 2013, as they enter UAAs with three first-place finishes on the year. In their most recent meet, the Oshkosh Invitational, the defending champs placed ninth amongst one of the most competitive fields they have faced so far this year.
“The competition at Oshkosh was insane but very exciting. It presented a challenge to our team similar to the one we will see at Nationals, and many members of the team really rose to that challenge,” third-year Catherine Young said. “This performance shows ourselves and other teams that we are ready to attack UAAs at our very best ability.”
Young was the second Maroon to cross the finish line at Oshkosh.
The men put on a strong performance as well, finishing 14th of 45 in what was also a densely talented group of runners.
Fourth-year Kevin On stressed how important racing as a team was at Oshkosh and how that’s what will lead the team to success this Saturday.
“We are all meant to shine…[i]t’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone,” On said. “[A]s we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
Third-year Michael Frasco noted the importance of the mental game and putting mind over matter, especially at this point in the year.
“In order to be successful at UAAs, our team needs to trust our training and push our pain tolerance as far as we can,” Frasco said.
He led the team by finishing 49th at Oshkosh.
“Running a great cross country race hurts bad,” Frasco said. “But the twenty five minutes of suffering will be worth it if we are able to win the conference meet.”
Young was in agreement with Frasco about the role of the mental game when competing at this high level.
“Our team really needs to go into UAAs with confidence in how good we are. It is all a mental battle now for the championship season,” Young said. “The physical speed is there—we just need to trust our teammates and ourselves.”
Facing the best of the UAA will require aiming for near perfection as both teams contend to be the champions of the conference. On explained how he looked at this necessity going into the weekend.
“Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down... you live in that moment, as best you can... if you can do that, then you’re perfect,” On said.
The Maroons will strive for perfection tomorrow in St. Louis at 11:30 a.m. as they race for the distinction of becoming UAA champions.