By NATALIE GUYETTE
Mount Mary University Blue Angels cross-country team consists of seven women. They started the season with plans to beat personal best times and create a place for Mount Mary in the world of cross-country.
“I’m excited to have fresh blood on the team and think we mesh well,” said Danielle Sherrer, a sophomore cross-country team runner. “Last year, I did not feel connected to everyone on the team, but this year I feel as though we are our own little family and have each other’s backs through all that this season will throw at us.”
Sarah Cull, assistant coach and a Mount Mary graduate, works closely with the team. She attends practices and participates in workouts as well as keeps track of the runners’ times.
“I think the season is going well,” Cull said. “I’m very impressed with how hard everyone is working. We have some speedy runners this year.”
The cross-country team has had four meets so far this season. The first competition started at St. Norbert’s College in Green Bay, Wis. At the Green Bay meet, Sherrer managed to shave off a few seconds from her previous year’s 5 kilometer time.
Hayley Hove and Grace Rock made their freshman debut in Green Bay. Hove proved to be one of the fastest freshman since current senior Emily Barker’s debut with a finishing time of 24 minutes, 25 seconds.
Overall, the team placed eighth out of 11 teams which was an improvement from last year’s placement of ninth.
Coach Eugene Miranda coached the women to succeed by encouraging the runners to continue their routine throughout the summer months. She offered a half marathon training session for motivation.
At the Concordia University meet on Sept. 14, everyone competed in the first 6 kilometer race of the season.
Senior Vanessa Schellinger managed to knock off 10 seconds per mile with her time going from 8:07 to 7:57. The team placed twelfth out of 19 Division III schools.
On Sept. 27, the team drove to Rock Island, Ill. to compete in a 6k event at Augustana College.
The race marked the first time in Mount Mary’s cross-country history to participate in an evening race. Both Hove and Schellinger ran fast enough to
slash more than a minute off of their times. Hove finished in 27:44.8. Schellinger finished in 28:14.7.
Sarah Cull believes that cross-country is just as much of an individual sport as it is a team sport.
“It is the most fun to watch individuals improve over the season both their times and endurance,” Cull said. “Everyone starts at a different level at the beginning of the season, so you really can’t compare. It’s you against the clock.”
Team members will have at least two more chances to improve upon individual times before the regional competition on Nov. 16 at Augustana College. The team will also be at University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Oct. 12 and back at Concordia University for the Private Colleges Meet on Oct. 19.
Coach Miranda sees there is still room for improvement for the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Nov. 16.
“I feel that we have not had a meet where everyone’s at their best,” Miranda said. “I feel that our best meets are just around the corner. If individuals commit to training and keep up the good performances I sometimes see in training, I am certain that we may have a number of excellent personal bests at NCAA Regionals.”