Cross country season sprints to finish line

This past Saturday, the Tulane cross country team traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to compete in the annual pre-national meet. On the men’s side, junior Emmanuel Rotich maintained his status as the champion of the meet for the second year in a row, while the team also maintained its 15th place finish from last season. On the women’s side, the team moved up three spots from last season, finishing 39th among all teams.

After months of preparation, Eric Peterson, head coach of cross country and track and field, was glad to see his runners perform in a high-pressure situation.

“The pre-national meet was the first meet this semester on our schedule that really mattered in that we were gonna be up against … some of the best teams in the country, and our kids were gonna be exposed to a high level of talent, not just from the regional area, but from all over the country,” Peterson said.

The pre-national meet, however, is still only a warm-up. The team cannot help but focus its energy on the American Athletic Conference Championship, coming up next Saturday. The men will be looking for a repeat of last season, when they surprised many as conference runners-up, while Rotich will be aiming to claim the individual title. Rotich, Moses Aloiloi and Joshua Cheruyot all finished in the top 15 at last season’s race.

“He’s undefeated up to this point in time, but winning championships is very difficult,” Peterson said. “… I know that he’s healthy, I know that he’s well-prepared, and most importantly, I know that he’s hungry for it. But now it’s time to go out and see if he can do it.”

The women, on the other hand, will be looking to improve upon their seventh place finish from last season, while returning with their four best runners.

“I think the women have improved a lot,” Peterson said. ” You know, the leadership the women enjoy from both Lauren Bartels and Emma Newton, both seniors, is a huge boost … We have some youth behind them and some inexperience in McKenzie Melius, Bridgid Selfors, who’s a true freshman this year, and Sarah Cella, who’s a sophomore, but they’re all very capable, and the better the three of them can run together as a group, as a unit, and place close together, the better that team is gonna be.”

The AAC Championship race will be run in Philadelphia. Peterson planned around this fact, making sure to schedule one of the team’s preseason meets on the track on which the race will be held.

“Not only do they have now several races under their belt, but they have experience on the course that the meet is gonna be contested on because of the preseason … My hope is that the experience is gonna pay off and that it’ll help us perform well,” Peterson said.

The AAC Championship race will take place on Oct. 28th, with the men running at 10 a.m. and the women running at 10:50 a.m.

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