Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — The culmination of all the training, all the early morning workouts, all the cuts, bumps, and bruises of the cross country season is finally here: the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet.
Central Michigan will compete in the event, scheduled for the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, on Friday.
The women will run first at 1 p.m., while the gun for the men’s race will go off at approximately 2 p.m.
The men will run the championship distance of 10 kilometers, while the women will maintain their 6K course.
While the season has had its ups and downs, CMU coach Matt Kaczor remains optimistic about how his teams will fare.
“I think we surprised ourselves a little bit as far as what we can do the last couple of weeks, particularly at the MAC meet,” he said. The coach can preach it all year, but until they do it, they don’t always get the idea of what you’ve been talking about. They got it at the MAC meet. They understood how good this group can be.”
The women’s field is tightly packed, Kaczor said.
“We could have a great race and we could be ninth, or we could have a great race and we could be 15th,” he said. “If you think about it, Bowling Green is 10th (in the region), we lost to them by 10 points at the MAC meet — we are now 15th. We beat Toledo for the first time all season (at the MAC meet) and now they’re not ranked. So it just shows you that the margin for error is so small.”
For the Chippewa men’s team, the focus will be on the seniors Spencer Nousain and Casey Voisin — who have led a group of eager young guns all season.
“They have done a great job all year instilling the CMU tradition to the guys who are new and our redshirts,” Kaczor said. “Teaching them what we’re all about, how we train, how we work, and that we all support each other to get ourselves through to a great team result.”
Many of the newcomers will be running their first collegiate 10K, but Kaczor doesn’t believe it to be a major issue.
“We’ve had a lot of ‘firsts’ all year long on the men’s side, so this really isn’t much different,” he said. “I’m very confident that they won’t be shellshocked.”
The focus, as it always is for Kaczor’s teams, is not worrying about aspects of the race that are uncontrollable, but putting everything into being the best they can be from top to bottom.
“As long as we run a great race and do everything we can to not leave points out there, that’s what matters most,” Kaczor said.
“That’s all I ask from my athletes, ‘just give everything that you have to give, and the results will just kind of be where they are.”
The top two teams of each gender advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championship meet on Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Another 13 at-large selections will fill out the 31-team field.