North Texas Daily

Mean Green cross country looking to build on recent success

Mean Green cross country looking to build on recent success

September 20
11:33 2016

It may only be September, but the Mean Green cross country team is starting to hit its stride. The men have finished second and third in the past two meets, while the women recorded a historic win at the Ken Garland Invitational, taking home first place.

As conference and regional contests approach, both teams seem to be finding their form.

“We’re right where we want to be for the results we want in November,” head coach Stefanie Slekis said.

The men’s team has relied heavily on freshman and sophomores as of late, a strategy that has paid dividends for North Texas so far. The team, however, is not interested in resting on its laurels.

Around this time in 2015, the men’s team beat the University of Texas at Austin — a feat they had not accomplished before. Instead of building on the win, Slekis believes her team became complacent, something she does not want to see again.

“We had that great high and went off of that, [so] we didn’t have the finish we wanted to have,” Slekis said. “This year we just [have] to believe in the process. I’m really confident in the training we’ve mapped out. We’re going to be ready to go at conference and regionals.”

One of the multiple underclassmen that have stepped up this year is freshman Tim Jones.

Jones finished sixth in the Gerald Richey Invitational and 18th at the Ken Garland Invitational this past weekend.

“I think the season is starting off really well, a lot better than I anticipated,” Jones said. “Being a freshman, I felt overwhelmed coming into it. But, I feel like it’s a really good start for me, not just for the season but for my college career in general.”

But the men’s team is not the only one who has gotten off to a fast start this year.

The women’s team has also emerged as a formidable opponent, especially sophomore Susannah Lynch, who has made history in recent weeks. At the Ken Garland Invitational, she was the one who took home the gold for North Texas. Two weeks earlier, she was the first Mean Green runner to finish at the Baylor Twilight Invitational, placing 10th overall.

“[I’m in] good form for early in the season,” Lynch said. “There’s still a lot of time to go.”

A key to Lynch’s early success has been buying into the training program Slekis has established for her. Part of the process is alternating between which days she runs hard, and which days she runs light.

Lynch used that tempo to her advantage this past weekend, but is still working to build speed and aggressiveness she’ll need as the season winds down.

“I’m really proud of her,” Slekis said. “She’s got so much in the tank, and we’re just being cautious so she stays healthy. She’s going to be amazing to watch the next three years.”

Next on the docket for the Mean Green is the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival on Oct. 1 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The team hopes to build on its momentum there, something Slekis is confident they will be able to do.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing in practice,” Slekis said. “We’ve really only done one interval workout. Everything else has been strength work. We’re going to keep mixing in some strength work along with adding the intervals, so they’ll start feeling a lot better.”

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Tyler Lucius

Tyler Lucius

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