July 21, 2009
BEAUMONT, Texas -
The Lamar University men's and women's cross country program announced their fall schedule featuring several nationally prominent meets and a pair of local contests that will prepare them for Southland Conference and regional competition.
"This schedule will allow us to get the proper work done so we'll be running our best at the end of October and early November," Cross Country coach Jake Stewart said. "We'll have plenty of opportunities to gage where we're at as a group, and we'll have the time needed to work on the things we need to work on."
The Cardinals cross country season will begin with a trip to Lake Charles, La. for the McNeese Relays on Sept. 1.
"The McNeese meet will be an opportunity for us to get into a competitive environment," Stewart said. "Summer training can become monotonous at times, and our kids will be looking forward to changing it up."
The Lady Cardinals will take the first long trip of the season for either program when they head to Riverside Calif. for the UC Riverside invitational on Sept. 19.
"Riverside will give us a great indication of where our women's team is at," Stewart said. "This is a competitive meet, and will allow a lot of our girls to gain the experience of traveling, preparing and competing against a solid field. My hopes are for us to walk away from this meet with a clear perspective of where we're at as a team and where we need to go."
Both teams will be in action the following week when they head to Baton Rouge, La. for the LSU Invitational at Highland Road Park on Sept. 26. The men's race is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., with the women to follow at 10 a.m.
"LSU is going to give us another opportunity to compete," Stewart noted. "This meet gives us a chance to see some of the schools throughout our region and it's a great meet. Throughout the season, we will strive to continue to work on competing throughout the duration of races."
A week later the men's team will head north for the Wisconsin Inter-Regional Invitation hosted by the University of Wisconsin at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The meet is scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3 in Madison, Wisc.
"I'm excited for this program's opportunity to compete at the Wisconsin Inter-Regional Invite," Stewart said. "It'll be a competitive race, on a fantastic cross country only course. Coach Byrne at Wisconsin has done a great job of putting together a quality field. I feel good about the experience level of the guys returning this fall, along with the group we have coming in. After a long block of training, our guys will be ready to compete among some of the nation's best."
Following the trip to Wisconsin, the LU cross country program will take a couple of week s off before heading to Terre Haute, Ind. for Pre-Nationals on Oct. 17.
We've gone to this meet in the past. Some of the guys on our team have been on this course before, so they know what to expect," Stewart said. "For the others, Pre-Nationals provides them a chance to get on the course and run it hard. Again, we look at this meet as another opportunity to compete and continue to develop as a group. The guys on this team have made it clear that they want to race and compete at the national level. To do so, we need to go to races like Pre-Nationals, stick our nose in it, and see where this program is at. Pre Nationals is a great barometer.
"Our women will be ready to run here as well. Coming to Lamar University, a very tangible goal was for our women's team to go to prominent meets and be competitive. We would not be going to Pre-Nationals if we weren't ready to do so. I feel as though nothing but positives can come from this experience for our women's team. We'll be excited to be there but will be prepared to compete to best of our ability.
After Pre-Nationals the Cardinals will turn their focus towards the Southland Conference championship meet which will be held on Oct. 31 in Corpus Christi. The men will be taking aim at their fourth consecutive championship, while the women will be seeking a return to the top of the SLC standings.
"Every year, success is measured by how a team performs in its championship season, and the Southland Conference Championships are the beginning of that season for us," Stewart said. "We will put our best teams on the line ready to run. Our teams respect this conference a great deal, and will be in a position to run their best. We will focus on what we need to do to have ourselves as fully prepared as possibly to race in this traditionally tough meet."
After the SLC championship meet the focus for the LU teams will turn to the NCAA Regional Championships in Waco, Texas. The meet, hosted by Baylor University will be held at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course on Nov. 14.
"Our men's and women's team will be excited to race against the best teams in this region," Stewart said. "The course up at Baylor is a tough but fair course, and our athletes know that. All that we can do is focus on the things that we can control, stay healthy and prepare to run at the best of our abilities.
The final meet of the year will be the NCAA Championship, which would mean a trip back to Terre Haute, Ind. on November 23. Lamar has had at least one representative compete at the NCAA Championship meet in each of the last four years, with two individuals earning NCAA All-American honors. Last season Samuel Kosgei ran to a 37th place finish while Francis Kasagule placed 29th as a freshman in 2006 and grabbed a 24th place finish as a sophomore in 2007.
"Lamar University cross country has had representation at this meet each of the last four years and we want to continue that streak, Stewart said. "Understanding that it's a difficult task, and one we do not take for granted, I feel confidant that this group of athletes will extend this streak to a fifth year."