Cross country runners join the track team, last shot at a MAC title
Willie Randolph stood on the track beside Matt Kaczor and the two shouted, waved their arms and encouraged runners passing by.
“Get there, get by them,” the director of track and field, Randolph, yelled along with his assistant coach, Kaczor.
That was Friday, when the Central Michigan men’s and women’s track and field teams both finished in first place over Detroit Mercy, Oakland University, Macomb Community College and Aquinas College.
Randolph and Kaczor know it’s another season to aim for a Mid-American Conference championship. They know that the seniors have one final chance at a title.
For Holly Anderson, it’s her last chance.
Anderson, a senior long-distance runner, said she wants a MAC championship before she leaves CMU in May.
Also a cross-country runner, Anderson and the cross-country team came in second place at the MAC championships in the fall for the second-straight year.
The women’s track and field team finished in fourth during the MAC championships in May 2010. The last MAC title in either indoor or outdoor was 2004.
The last chance for Anderson, the cross-country runners and the rest of the track and field team has arrived. Anderson is one of four seniors from the cross-country team running track and field.
“I’m really excited,” Anderson said. “It was a really great winter of training.”
She finished first in the one-mile run Friday with at time of 5:04.86. Senior runner Veronica Garcia finished in third place with a time of 5:17.88.
Anderson said running long-distance track and field is a lot different from cross-country.
“There’s not the time (in track and field) like you have in a cross-country race,” she said.
She said the strategy differs between cross-country and distance track because of the shorter amount of time. A mile run in track and field, she said, feels more like a sprint.
Kaczor said the team is progressing, but still saw things he said were “far from perfect.” He also expected to see some rust in the first meet of the season.
“They ran really well, but it’s the beginning of January, so you have to take it with a grain of salt,” Kaczor said.
Despite the imperfections he and Randolph observed, there’s an overriding reason they cheer on the runners with so much energy.
“These kids pour their heart and soul into the track,” Kaczor said. “How can you not support them when they put so much work into what they do?”