North Texas Daily

Mean Green cross-country teams acclimate freshmen members early on in the 2023 season

Mean Green cross-country teams acclimate freshmen members early on in the 2023 season

Mean Green cross-country teams acclimate freshmen members early on in the 2023 season
September 14
08:00 2023

North Texas cross country opened a new era testing the team’s freshmen at the John McKenzie Invitational in Fort Worth on Sept. 2.

Head Coach Eric Stevens announced starting freshmen Hardy Swann, Alan Proenza, Jake Johnson, Landin Wolfe and Aiden Kirkpatrick on the men’s side.

Aditi Silwal and Trinity Trotter were the freshmen to start on the women’s side, along with other veteran runners.

“Most importantly, what I was looking for was [the freshmen’s] ability to execute a race plan,” Stevens said. “It was going to be kind of put together just to feel what we should be feeling at this time of year. Nothing ahead of pace or ahead of schedule and just really wanted to see how they could execute it.” 

Silwal placed 23rd overall at Texas Christian University’s 5K race with a time of 18:54.0, while Trotter placed 28th with a time of 19:05.4.

“I think it went pretty well, I kind of just followed the plan that coach gave me and it ended up going really well,” Silwal said. “[Coach said], ‘Don’t go out too fast, control it.’ He gave me certain times to run at certain marks so at 1K and like at 2K, he gave me times for those, and then he was also running around the course keeping up like, ‘OK you’re good right here, OK let’s speed up a little bit.’”

Prior to the race, Silwal mentioned feeling nervous considering it was her first collegiate race and was still trying to transition from high school.

“In high school, I didn’t run as many miles and the training was different but coach [has been] really good with transitioning me in the summer,” Silwal said. “I had my individual workout sent to me and there would be days where it’s like workout days is like two days and then there would be like regular easy days and I would send him a text, being very specific about how I felt and how I did. He would give me feedback based on that.”

On the men’s side of the 5k race, Proenza finished 23rd with a duration of 15:41.8, Swann finished 33rd with a time of 16:02.6, Johnson placed 41st with a duration of 16:15.5 and Wolfe placed 49th with a time of 16:35.8.

“It went pretty good, I did what I was supposed to do, I executed and I’m happy with it,” Proenza said. “I didn’t really need to prepare too much mentally I felt like we were just going there, and we knew what we had to do, and we went and we did it.”

Every Sunday, Stevens sends individual workout plans to his athletes. However, at times he groups about four to five individuals together.

When it comes to upcoming freshmen, he meets with them during the summer to learn what plans and workouts work for them. He establishes a plan to make it easier for them to adjust to a new fast-paced environment.

“I sat down with every single athlete as they come out of the high school season and then I get some information, then we build slow gradual process so those paces early in the season,” Stevens said. “I’m slowly chunking them down a little bit just touching on some phases during the summer to get their body somewhat used to what we’re going to be doing but without kind of overloading them, so it’s all about trying to keep them on some sort of strength-based plan without overloading the intensity so when they get here they have the strength behind them that adjustment is going to be a little bit easier as we get into those faster paces.”

Proenza said adapting to a new environment was easy and he has enjoyed being around a team that wants to be the best they can be. To create chemistry with his teammates, they have been going out as a group to watch movies. He described them as being like a “family.”

On Sept. 9, the Mean Green got to see more from the freshman men’s team at the University of Texas at Arlington meet in Arlington.

Connor Bartek placed 28th with a time of 16:10.4, Jake Meyering placed 40th at a pace of 16:58.7 and Johnson placed 46th with a time of 17:32.5. Following was Wolfe, who placed 48th with a time of 17:41.8 and Kirkpatrick finished 50th at a pace of 17:51.1.

As the season progresses, Stevens plans on running freshmen on both the men’s and women’s sides of the team, along with returning athletes.

“I think they’ve been very patient with the process so far and you know that’s really just what I want to see,” Stevens said. “I want to see them continue to trust the process and then when we get to the conference meet, they’re able to go out there and execute with as much confidence as they can.”

Featured image: From left: Head Coach Erik Stevens stands with freshmen Hardy Swann, Aditi Silwal and Alan Proenza on Sep. 8, 2023. Brock Burgan

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Alexia Lopez

Alexia Lopez

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