Rex Shields knows what lies ahead for the Cougars for the upcoming pre-nationals: the opportunity to win the meet. He was there two years ago, and this time he is eager to finish in the front of the race to help his team win in Louisville, Ky.
Shields, a senior majoring in history, wants to get out quickly as a team and, personally, to stick with the front pack for this upcoming meet.
“My main goal for me is to help my team be up there in the front with me,” Shields said.
Motivating a team isn’t the easiest thing for anyone to do as a player or coach, but for Shields, a co-captain on the team, shared his thoughts about leadership and his role in the team.
“I think it’s to put belief in them; let them know that they can do it,” Shields said. “Our goal should be to win it and once they see me up front leading them, they’ll be able to follow the pace.”
Shields plans to see every race this season as a stepping stone working towards the bigger goal.
“I’m going to use every race as a preparation for nationals,” Shields said. “I think getting out in the front pack in these next couple races, and even leading it, will help me to be prepared to run with the fastest guys at nationals.”
Ed Eyestone, BYU men’s cross country head coach, anticipates that Jared Ward, a senior and co-captain with Shields, will battle for the individual title race to help lead the team to victory.
“We want to have the gap between Jared and the rest of the team be (small) so that we can pull off a good performance,” Eyestone said regarding his strategy for this race.
Eyestone said that the University of Portland will be a strong team and that the opportunity of going head-to-head against them, along with many teams, will give BYU a good man-to-man matchup. It will only give BYU a better confidence and something to look forward to at the conference meet in two weeks.
With the season coming to an end soon, Head Coach Patrick Shane looks for improvement from his team’s performance at this weekend’s Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.
The Lady Cougars will be competing against 20 of the top 30 teams in the nation, one of the most competitive races BYU has ever faced. At this point of the season, they will be looking to punch in their ticket to reach the national championship in November.
“We need to have an outstanding team race,” Shane said. “We need the athletes to have their best race of the year.”
According to Shane, the team met together recently and made a team goal to race to nationals. Shane said the team is motivated and ready mentally and physically to reach its goal.
“I have every expectation that they’ll run well to exceed the goal we set,” Shane said.
Lindsey Sowards Nielson, a senior on the women’s team, is optimistic about this upcoming weekend’s race and her first trip to the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.
“I feel super excited but a little nervous because I want us to do well,” Nielson, who has been on the team since her freshman year, said.
Nielson explained that the team did meet together and set a goal to make it to nationals as a team like previously mentioned by Head Coach Shane. Having high expectations as a team, the seniors don’t want to give up their hard efforts through the years on the team and want to do the best that they can while having fun.
“We are determined to be in the top 16 at the end of the race … I feel it is attainable if everyone is healthy and takes care of their body,” Nielson said.
With experience under her belt, Nielson hopes to share her experience and knowledge with her underclassmen teammates. She mentioned if the team works hard in practice, follows the coaches’ directions and follows its running mileage, it will be able to race well during the season.
“Practice like you’re racing, race like it’s practice,” Nielson said, is a strategy which helps her run confidently in races.