The BJU men’s and women’s cross country teams have had successful first halves of their seasons and are looking to capture some key wins in the second half as they recover from recent sickness.
The men’s team won their season opener at the Palmetto State Cross Country Festival hosted at Columbia International University. Later, they captured second place at the Warrior Cross Country Invitational before finishing 21st of 30 teams in the large Queen City Invite in Charlotte. They competed against NCAA Division I and II schools at this meet.
The women’s team finished third in their season opener, the Palmetto State Cross Country Festival, as well as at the Warrior Cross Country Invitational. They also placed 21st of 29 teams at the Queen City Invite. As both teams head into the second half of the season, they face three big meets: the Sand Shark Invitational at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, the Bruins Invitational on BJU campus and the NCCAA Nationals in Point Lookout, Missouri.
Landon Bright, coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track teams, said, “The emphasis is on the back half of the season.”
He said the three upcoming meets are the goals of the season and where most of the season’s focus lies. Both cross country teams, especially the men’s, have been battling sickness all season.
Bright said he’s never had a season like it, with players falling sick for an entire week from a bug that has been passed around campus. However, the team this year has more depth and talent than in past seasons. Bright said that players have been stepping up and filling in the gaps.
Sarah Sheridan, a senior who has been on the team four years, said, “We definitely started off really well this season.” But having hit the midpoint of the season, the running has gotten tougher. “You get to this point, second half of the season, where you just want to drift and not try to get faster but just maintain,” Sheridan said. “Coach was saying last week ‘don’t be content with where you’re at, just try to do more.’”
The home meet on Oct. 27 will be the best opportunity to see the cross country teams in action. Bright said the course is on back campus, so spectators will get to see a large chunk of the race.
“It’s really neat for us being in an environment where people get to see us race,” he said.
Even though most students can’t see the teams race, Sheridan said students can still keep up with the team by asking how the season is going.
“It’s not something you can always go see,” she said, “But we’re still up at 6 a.m. even when no one can see us.” Ben Douthit, a junior on the men’s team, encouraged students to get to know the teams.
“Talk to them about running,” he said. “Encourage them. We’re a team that always needs prayer, especially since we’re out on the roads a lot running on Wade Hampton. That’s probably the biggest thing.”
The women are close to a win at the regional championship as their run times stack up closely to the current first seed team. “We’re so close,” Sheridan said.
The men’s team is looking to place well at regionals again this year and then shoot for another gold at nationals the second week of November. Coach Bright said, “We want to stay healthy and then get to the line in November ready to go.”