LCC harriers rounding into peak form
The nationally ranked LCC women’s and men’s cross country teams traveled to Muskegon for the Jayhawk Invitational Oct. 16 to fine tune for the NJCAA Region XII meet at Grand Woods Park on Oct. 31.
The women’s team came into the meet second in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross County Coaches’ Association rankings. The men were ranked 11th in the same poll.
“The Muskegon course was a little hillier and it was a windy day,” said LCC Head Coach Jim Robinson. “You would think the times would be slower, but just about everyone ran faster.”
The women’s team took first place out of 13 schools with 30 points. Grand Valley State B was second with 67 points and Aquinas was third with 80. This is the fourth meet in a row the Lady Stars have won in their division.
“We ran awesome as a team,” said LCC sophomore Kelly Babcock. “Everyone doubled up, tripled up and pushed each other through the whole course.”
The women had four runners finish in the top 15. LCC freshman Taylor Thrush was first for LCC, in fourth out of 132 runners in 18:42 for the 5K race. Freshman Kaitlin Beyer was right behind in fifth, finishing in 18:47.
The LCC men’s team finished third in team results with 89 points; only five points behind second place Spring Arbor University. Aquinas College won the 16-school race with 73 points.
“This last meet was really good,” said LCC freshman Carson Alexander. “Normally we are pretty spaced out. We had five or six guys all right there for the first mile, which was really cool because we were pushing each other.”
LCC freshman Dylan Rocha continued his late-season surge of good form, finishing first for LCC in 24th place out of 167 runners in 26:45. Alexander, who has had a quietly successful year, was 26th with a time of 26:48.
Robinson explained that his men’s team is peaking at the right time. The fastest runner he has was running 28 minutes flat at the start of 2015.
“This is what you hope for,” Robinson said. “We’ve had some injuries and setbacks along the way, but this is what you want as a coach.”
With the two biggest meets on the schedule fast approaching, the harriers’ skipper said he plans to keep his promise and taper down the practice intensity.
Regardless of the rankings or practice intensity, his runners have remained focused on the challenges ahead.
“We all know what we’re capable of,” women’s runner Babcock said. “If we just go out and perform to the best of our abilities the rankings won’t matter.”