Terre Haute, Ind. – The Transylvania cross country team will test the fruits of its season-long progress this Sunday, November 3 at the 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course.
After a season which has witnessed the Pioneers set new standards in nearly every successive race, a young Pioneer team approaches this year's HCAC conference championship races ready to raise the bar once again.
Led by first-year head coach Matthew Roden, the Pioneers are ready to achieve more personal bests, as well as to measure up their growth on a truly cumulative scale starting from this past August through this weekend.
"The women's program has really come a long way this season," says Roden. "Every member of the team has improved their mile average with each competition and their 5K split in their most recent 6K races has far surpassed their actual 5K race finish times from the beginning of the season. Our men's team has seen a consistent improvement as the season progressed. We've seen several personal bests and improvements in race mechanics. The men have really come together and are functioning well as a squad, and I'm excited to see how they feed off each other when it comes time for a large team-scored event like the conference championships."
Along with the exciting measurables that each team has displayed, Roden is hopeful for more success in the weekend ahead, which has in past years revealed the sum of the season-long efforts leading up to the HCAC race.
"Our goal going into this year was to create an atmosphere and culture that will help push us beyond where we finished last season," says Roden. "I think we have an opportunity to not only do that but significantly improve our overall placing if everyone runs the race they're capable of running."
The Pioneers have boasted a roster full of budding talent, led by freshman Kortney Smith and junior Josie Cunningham on the women's team, and sophomores Jacob Burnam and Chauncey Longman, as well as freshman Mike Kersting on the men's side.
Smith is coming off a record-setting performance at the Cardinal Classic in Muncie, Indiana two weeks ago after recording a new top-10 program mark in the women's 6K race. Burnam took 14th overall in the same meet, finishing ahead of several Division I runners in the men's 8K race to check into this weekend's competition on a hot streak.
"The conference championship is a different type of competition for everyone involved and will really show how our physical training and mental focus has come together for one team-focused race," adds Roden. "It will be an atmosphere that I hope our young team can persevere through and achieve season-best performances. We have trained hard up to this point and I know our runners are ready to bring out their best – now it's just a matter of letting that happen."
The Transylvania men will kick off the day by competing in the men's 8K race at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard time and will be followed by the Pioneer women, who begin the women's 6K race at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time.
Admission to the event is $5 and free for children ages 12 and under and HCAC representatives.
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