Men's cross-country reflection
The 2011 Central Michigan men’s cross-country team drastically improved upon their 2010 campaign. 2011 became a positive step for the future of CMU’s men’s cross-country team that compiled a number of highlights.
The season included a 2nd place finish at the Mid-American Conference meet, only ten points away from becoming MAC champions. It was their best finish since taking 2nd in the 2006-07 campaign.
CMU also saw sophomore Tecumseh Adams become the individual MAC champion while becoming the first runner for CMU since 2005 to qualify for nationals. Adams success helped propel the Chippewas to a 7th place finish at regional’s where they beat every MAC school and even Big Ten Conference teams Michigan State, and Purdue.
Assistant coach Matt Kaczor shared his thoughts on some of the highs and lows of the season. Kaczor’s favorite parts of the season included the MAC meet and regional’s.
“Well you definitely have to look at the MAC meet and regional meet,” Kaczor said. “That’s where the guys really turned it on. It showed what this young group was capable of. With them beating every single MAC team and the Spartans from MSU, which we haven’t done in awhile at regional’s. That 7th place finish at regional’s was the best I believe since 2003.”
It was also a treat for Kaczor to see one of his runners make it to nationals to compete for a NCAA championship.
“It’s been exciting with Tec being able to compete at nationals and see what it’s all about,” he said. “We had all the guys their supporting him, it was just a really exciting year for the guys.”
While the end of the season ended very well for the Chippewas, the beginning wasn’t what they were hoping for.
Slow starts at Notre Dame and the Michigan State invitational was some of the low points for Kaczor.
“At the Notre Dame meet I felt like we took a step backwards,” he said. “I was like wow, is this team really ready to show what they are capable of in practice. They had a lackluster performance. The challenging part was getting the freshmen un-scatter brained and keeping them focused on the long season.”
Red-shirt freshmen Ethan Lievense was a key member of the men’s team this year.
His highlights for the 2011 season includes finishing 6th at the Jeff Drenth Memorial, finishing 36th in his first ever colligate 8K at the Spartan invitational and running a personal best 25:19 while finishing 30th at the MAC championship.
Lievense personally enjoyed bonding with his team over the season.
“My favorite part about the season was the comradely with all the guys,” Lievense said. “All these guys are like my family, I see them everyday. Just getting to share this pain and glory with them is something I will never forget.
Some of the pain Lievense mentioned includes the cross-country schedule.
“The hardest part was getting used to the strenuous schedule,” he said “Just waking up early, going to all these meets, and getting used to all the mileage that takes a toll on your body.”
Sophomore Tecumseh Adams was a star for the Chippewas this season. Adams was runner up at the Spartan Invitational, won the MAC individual title, ran career bests of 24:01 for a 8K race and 30:12 for a 10k race. He earned all regional’s honors and qualified for nationals.
Adams season was full of highlights and accolades but his favorite thing was the competition.
“There are so many people racing, you get on the track and race against only 8-14 guys,” Adams said. “There is just more competition, and the terrain is pretty cool too.”
The terrain was something Adams enjoyed but it was also frustrating for him at times during the season.
“The hardest thing was running the 8k’s because that’s pretty far, and the terrain can be frustrating,” he said. “It is also a lot harder to win in cross-country.”
Although Adams did plenty of winning.
Redshirt freshmen Kyle Stacks was able to race in his first colligate 8k and 10k races this season. He took 31st at the MAC championships while finishing the 8k a career best 25:20. At regional’s Stacks finished 32nd while running a career best 31:06 10k.
Stacks aided Central Michigan’s improvement throughout the season. It also happened to be his favorite part.
“My favorite thing especially about this season was the improvement that we all went through and that you can see.” Stacks said.
The mileage wore out every runner, and it was the most challenging part for Stacks.
“The challenging part was adjusting to all the mileage that we were doing, it was just the workload.” He said.
Sophomore Nathan Huff made strides to become one of the top runners for the Chippewas at the end of the season.
Huff finished 17th at the MAC championships running the 8k in a career best of 24:59 and finishing 80th at the 10k regional’s with a career best of 32:06.
The team showed good chemistry this year and a strong bond, one that Huff enjoyed over the season.
“What I liked most about cross-country would probably be the competition and my teammates here,” Huff said. “My favorite moment was the MAC meet, it was disappointing that we took 2nd instead of 1st but it gave us a reason to want to work harder and win it next year.”
The men’s cross-country team doesn’t graduate a single person this year, and all runners will be back.
The success of this season makes the men’s team favorites to win the MAC title for next year’s cross-country season.