Nov. 16, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Junior Lamar Cross Country athlete Matt Johnsen found himself in a familiar position on Friday, wrapping up the final day of training for the 2012 season and preparing for a third straight appearance in the NCAA National Championship race, which is set for Saturday at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park.
Johnsen enters the race after a 10th place showing last Friday at the South Central Regional Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., and he’ll be looking to ride that momentum to another strong finish at the national meet.
“I’m feeling pretty confident about the race,” Johnsen said. “Darren [Gauson] and I have a plan, and we think it’ll work. I just need to keep my head about me early in the race, and I really think that the extra 2,000 meters will only benefit me.”
“Our goal this year has been to keep improving,” added Gauson, who is in his first season at the helm of the LU cross country program. “We’ve had some chances to keep improving, and I think this course will suit him. We were on this course earlier this season, and Matt ran it well. He knows it. It’s flat and fast, and I think he’ll be able to make a move over the final 5,000 meters.”
After finishing 136th as a freshman in 2010, Johnsen jumped to 89th in last season’s event. The prospects look good for moving up the leaderboard as this weekend’s race marks the second time the Australian has run the course this season, finishing 33rd at the 8,000-meter Pre-National Meet earlier in the fall, which is 2,000 meters less than this weekend’s course.
“While I think running here earlier will help, the training that we’ve done all year has prepared me for this,” Johnson said. “I’m definitely looking to improve again at Nationals, and I’m really gunning for one of those All-America spots.”
Saturday’s race will begin at 1:15 p.m.