Cross Country season is winding down and the Little East Conference championship is on the horizon.
With the conference tournament set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 27, Head Coach Peter Thomas said he isn’t worried about his team’s endurance, but said he feels speed is a focus area for improvement.
“We’re transitioning into more speed work right now, so we’re in the speed phase of our training, hoping to quicken up, stay healthy, and finish the year with a flourish,” Thomas said.
Senior Thomas Paquette said as an individual, he feels his speed is a concern.
“For me, I don’t have much speed. I could go on a 20 mile run right now and be fine. But when it comes down to that last mile that’s where I struggle, and that’s what I have to work on,” Paquette explained.
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Thomas, head coach of the program for the past 30 years, also said one of his concerns is overloading his younger players who aren’t as experienced with balancing college school work with college athletics. “With the younger kids you try to make sure that the workload hasn’t gotten too hard for them, not fatiguing,” Thomas said.
Paquette said he tries to relay a message of trust to his younger teammates and to bring the same mentality to each race. “Just always trusting your training, trusting your coach, and trusting yourself, and really just telling the guys “It’s just another race, stay relaxed and hopefully your training will take over the rest,” Paquette said.
Paquette said success starts with the right mind state. “I think for the guys’ team it’s just having a good race head, just being mentally tough. I mean all of us are in good shape, it’s just knowing how to race,” Paquette said.
Senior Maggie Fitter said she, along with her training, is relying on her experience to help her against what she said is some of the stiffest competition in the nation.
“For myself I’ve been on the regional team for four years so having that experience itself is very helpful in racing against some of the top girls,” Fitter said.
Fitter added, “Our region is the hardest region in the country so racing against basically the top girls in the country time and time again definitely lets you learn a lot about how to race and how to compete with them and how to train to get as good as them.”
Fitter also noted the familiarity of running with her teammates also helps with the comfort level in a big race.
“A lot of our girls run together, we race together, so it’s nice having that comfort that you train with the same girls that you’re going to race with, and they push each other to that good competitive, friendly competitiveness,” Fitter said.
Thomas said he has high expectations for both teams, though he said the women’s team may have more trouble than the men’s with winning the event.
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“Women are going to be in a close fight for the championship. Their 12-year reign is in jeopardy,” Thomas said. Fitter said that though the team lost some of their best athletes from last year, the women’s team is deeper than in years past.
“This year we have a lot more depth and we have a lot more girls that can run, not with the front pact, but right behind it that can stay together… we’ve had ten girls be in those top-five at different points. It’s a very competitive team and it’s going to be hard,” Fitter said.
Paquette said though he expects the men’s team to win the event, he said they will bring with them a more humble mentality than last year.
“Men’s [Cross Country] should win. Obviously last year we went in with that same mindset and we lost. So I think this year we’re going to take it more seriously and hopefully have that not happen again,” Paquette said. The LEC Championships will be held at Westfield State College in Westfield, Mass. on Oct. 27 at 11 a.m.
Stephen Trinkwald can be contacted