The BYU women’s cross country team looks to continue its strong season as it travels to Toledo, Ohio, for an invitational that will be a solid indicator of future success for the athletes.
In preparation for the Inter-regional Bubble Buster, the players will have to look within themselves for motivation to win meets. For the rest of the season, Head Coach Patrick Shane wants his team to do well, with every meet counting towards criteria points towards eligibility for the NCAA Championships.
“We have some goals that we want to accomplish in terms that we like to challenge for the conference championship,” Shane said. “We would like to go to nationals and find out how good we are at those last two meets.”
BYU will be running against four top-25 teams in the national poll: Toledo (18), Syracuse (22), San Francisco (23) and West Virginia (25). Other teams competing in the Bubble Buster are Wisconsin, Iowa and Portland at 6:10 p.m. (MDT) at Ottawa Park.
The concept for motivation according to Shane is that, “the athletes are the ones that need to be motivated, and it comes from within.” He also noted that the athletes need to find self-motivation to get where they need to be on game day.
“My job is to keep the lid on and to keep the emotional fuse from being lit too early,” Shane said. “If an athlete does not know how to self-motivate themselves, they are not going to be a collegiate athlete. Motivation is not difficult; if anything it’s to keep the butterflies in formation,” he said with a smile.
For this particular weekend, it will be special because it will be the first competition that counts towards criteria points, points that will help the Cougars make nationals. In another unique way, there are seven runners for whom this will be the first competition for the year.
“Believe me, they are excited,” Shane said.
Six of the 12 athletes who are running this weekend on the women’s team are freshman. Anytime a freshman is running for the first time, there is a special feeling associated with the experience.
“You’re excited and want to do well,” Shane said about the freshmen. “You’re now running with university uniforms, and that is a big thing for high school kids to get to this level, and here they are lined up for their first university race.”
Shane made a point that his runners are talented athletes and highly recruited and that they train hard all summer long and throughout the season. Now they are coming to the first competition that really matters, and they need to trust themselves — believe in their own ability and that they can compete with other athletes that line up at the race.
“These athletes are good at motivating themselves; that’s why they’re in college competing at the D-I level,” Shane said. “That probably motivates enough for each one of them.”
The Cougars have a chance to rise and shout to get a little national recognition.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Shane said. “If I can get the team to just relax, believe in themselves and run that way, we are going to be fine.”