Cross Country Q&A: Leading Up to Pre-Nationals
A Conversation With Five of North Texas's Top Male Runners
Prior to Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana this weekend, we sat down with five of the Mean Green men's cross-country team's runners to ask them some questions about the race and what could be their best season yet.
Mean Green Athletics: In the regional rankings last week North Texas men were ranked 5th, the highest in program history, what does that ranking mean for you and the team?
Alejandro Valencia: The 5th place ranking is a great accomplishment, but with the talent and mindset of our team, we want to achieve more! We want to put our team's name on the national level. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." We all have a lot more in us and can't wait to show that fight in at a larger stage (Pre-Nats, conference, regionals).
Silvester Harrison III: The ranking is a good sign that the program is moving forward, but knowing myself and the guys, it only makes us want to be higher and perform better.
Troy Taylor: I think being ranked 5th in the region is great, but we know we are better than that. It's awesome that we can say this is the best North Texas has ever been, but we will only improve from here.
Bryce McAndrew: Being ranked 5th is a good accomplishment and should boost our confidence for our more important races in this next month. We know we can move up a couple more spots in the regional rankings and just need to execute and prove to the other teams that we are at least a top 3 team in our region.
James Coleman: It's certainly nice to get some recognition for the hard work we have all been putting in, however we know that we can continue to improve on our rankings and that this is just the beginning of something far bigger. We can all feel that we are on the verge of achieving some great results as a team, and each of us are excited to be apart of something big.
MGA: The North Texas Men have never traveled to the Pre-National Invitational before what are you most looking forward to about going to Terre Haute and competing at this race?
AV: The most exciting thing about the race is competing against the caliber of athletes and teams we will race against. The race is also on the course that is ran on for nationals, so it's a great feeling to able to get the perspective of how the course looks.
SH: I am looking forward to the championship atmosphere, being around a bunch of goal-minded teams such as our own only makes competing that much more intense.
TT: It's okay that we have never been to Pre-Nats before we will go into the meet ready to compete with any team. We will be looking forward to the level of competition though. Great opportunity to race fast as a team.
BM: I am looking forward to going to Terre Haute and competing at Pre-Nationals because this meet will be the most competitive meet we have ever performed in. We are going against 10 nationally ranked teams on the National course, so [we] have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is our time to show the nation that we are a much better team than everyone thinks we are. All we have to do is run to our ability level, and we will put North Texas on the map as a school with a cross-country team that can run with some of the top teams in the nation.
JC: We have been given a wonderful opportunity to race against some of the best teams in the nation. This is where the National championships are going to be held later this year, and where they were also held last year. Hopefully it will give us all some added inspiration leading into the championship period of the season.
MGA: How do you think the team's performance at Chile Pepper impacts what the team can accomplish at the pre-national meet?
AV: The team's performance at Chile Pepper has helped us want more out of our season. We are all very fired up after our performances at Chile Pepper and that will help us keep the momentum going towards Pre-Nationals on beyond. Pre-Nationals is just a stepping stone towards our bigger goals.
SH: I believe that we had good races and got a good feeling of what we can do as a unit, but going forward I feel the team mentality is that we can surpass our performance for Arkansas and really make a name for ourselves.
TT: We ran great at Chili pepper, individually and also as a team. I hope the drive and focus we had for that meet will carry over to Pre-Nats. We've seen what we can do at a larger meet, now we need to go a lay it all on the course this weekend.
BM: The team's performance at Chile Pepper was our first real test against some solid teams and it showed us that we are right where we want to be. Yes, we need to work on some certain things, but we are the most fit we have ever been as a team and still have room to improve. Chile Pepper gave us confidence that we can accomplish our season goals and that we are ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.
JC: Chile Pepper two weeks ago was a real eye opener to what this team is capable of. We had some excellent results, and breakthrough performances, especially with our front guys. Seeing the fantastic performances from my teammates has really inspired me and I'm sure it has the rest of the team.
MGA: There will be 10 Nationally ranked teams at pre-nats, what are your goals for the team and individually?
AV: The fact that there are 10 nationally ranked teams makes us even more excited. We are a dark horse, and we want to show people what we are made of. No one is expecting us, there is no pressure. Our goal is to execute our race plans and run as best as possible to prepare us for the meets that we have after Pre-Nationals.
SH: As a team, I think that is not out of our reach to be nationally ranked after this weekend. As an individual I want to do whatever it takes and whatever I can to get our team ranked.
TT: Like I said before, the level of competition for this weekend is stacked! Great for us, now we will get a chance to push ourselves as a team and hopefully crack the top ten!
BM: Our ultimate goal is to finish in the top 10 as a team, which would be great as we would beat some nationally ranked teams. Individually I hope to finish in the top 100 runners. I am fit, injury free and as long as I stay mentally tough, I should be able to accomplish that. The top 100 doesn't sound like a high goal, but it is a large meet with over 300 very competitive runners.
JC: After seeing what this team is capable of it's exciting to enter a meet having the belief that we can mix it with some of the top teams in the nation. As a team, we are getting more and more belief in each other each week, every single one of us is going to be racing for each other. Every single runner on this team wants to be returning to Indiana for the National Championships later this year, this is the meet where we need to show everyone that we deserve to be there.
MGA: What impact do you think competing at pre-nats will have on the rest of the season?
AV: I believe that the impact the Pre-National meet will have on us will be great, because I believe every single one of my guys will run amazing. We are all in it together, one for all and all for one. The meet will give us more momentum towards the championship portion of our season.
SH: A positive one. Regardless of the outcome, after competing in such a deep and large race in Indiana, our conference meet will feel much easier and in our own control.
TT: If we all run to the potential that I know this team is capable of, we will be ready to dominate the rest of the season and meet any of our ultimate goals. #conferencechamps? ;)
BM: Competing at pre-nats will introduce us to the highest level of competition that is available for college cross country. Competing with the best teams in the nation will help us set our team goals for years to come. Our experience racing with the best in the nation will help us believe that we can compete well against any team, and give us the confidence to win conference as well as finish very high in our region.
JC: Competing [in Indiana] will give us all invaluable experience leading into conference and regionals. We beat conference rival UTEP at Chile Pepper two weeks ago and will have the opportunity to race them again this week. Pre-nats will be yet another stepping-stone for greater things this season and [the] season to follow.
The North Texas men's cross-country team runs the Pre-National meet on Saturday, Oct 18.