Jacob Hunt, Campus Carrier online editor
Cross country season has begun, and both the men and women are already in preparation for the upcoming meets and regional competition. However, every new season brings challenges to overcome that set the course for the team’s future success.
The women’s team has faced illnesses and injuries over the last few weeks that have hindered practice for some of the athletes. The men are also facing the task of trying to incorporate 12 new freshman runners onto their team. Despite these problems, however, both teams have pushed on and made it through their first meet, allowing them to make preparations for the rest of the year.
“[Men and women] have a full different set of challenges, while making sure everybody has the opportunity to develop and to compete,” head coach Paul Deaton said.
The men’s team started their season off this year by mixing a large group of freshman runners in with the rest of the team. Incorporating the new members, however, proved much easier than expected as all of the freshmen trained over the summer.
“We have bigger numbers than ever and they are all excellent runners with high ceilings for future potential,” Deaton said.
This year’s men’s group is also one of the largest, with over 20 students participating. According to Deaton, the amount of runners makes the sport much more fun as the men continue to grow.
On Sept. 21, both the men’s and women’s teams competed in their first meet of the season. The competition proved exceptionally important for the year, as it was hosted by the Rhodes College, who will also be hosting regionals in November. The meet, therefore, gave the teams insight into their future competition and what the course will be like at regionals.
This year the men’s team placed 13th overall with three boys finishing in the top 100 runners. While this is a drop from Berry’s placement of seventh at last year’s meet, it did give Berry runners needed information about some of their future competitors. According to Deaton, some of the competing schools like Rhodes, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, Centre College, Oglethorpe University and Birmingham-Southern College will all be at Rhodes in November.
The women’s team is small this season, but it has some top performing runners. Along with three upperclassmen who, according to Deaton, are performing better than ever, the team also has senior Meredith Herman, who qualified for the national championship last season. This year, the team hopes to use these few exceptional runners to its advantage and prove that the size of the team doesn’t matter when it comes to scores.
“It’s a small group, but they are pretty good. They are going to do well,” Deaton said.
One major issue the team is facing this season is illness and injury. Since training began before school, the girls have faced various health issues that have kept them out practices for long periods of time. The girls, however, are still trying to persevere to do what is best for the team as a whole.
“Their theme throughout the season is going to be believing that we can do well but being patient and doing a lot of self-care to train hard but also stay healthy,” Deaton said.
At Rhodes, Berry took 11th this year, with three girls placing in the top 100. Herman even got into the top 20, placing 20th overall. Despite the team’s successes, however, Berry did lose six places on the overall board from last year.
The two teams have an off week before their next meet in Louisville, Kentucky, on Oct. 5.
After that, the season will continue with the Vikings heading towards their final competition back at Rhodes in November.