Men's CC 8th at conference, aiming for better at regionals

By Jamie Macpherson

Although the Scots didn’t do as well as they would have liked in the MIAC men’s cross-country championships this past weekend, that doesn’t mean they’re out of the running for regionals or nationals. The Scots finished eighth in the meet last Friday; a disappointing result after holding fourth place for four years. “It probably took me about four, five days to get over that,” Head Coach Matt Haugen said. “It was disappointing to have 8th place associated with this team, it’s I think the best team Mac’s had in about 20 years. But there are eight decent teams this year [in the MIAC] and that’s all it took.”

However, says runner Martin Mudry ’09, that shouldn’t have an affect on the upcoming meets. “I think it’s a matter of confidence,” he said. “How you feel today doesn’t affect how you feel tomorrow.” Mudry said he believes that as long as the team gets its four top runners where they have been in the past, “there’s no reason we couldn’t surprise people.”

Coach Haugen seconds this sentiment. “We have four of our number one men competing. As long as they equal their best time, we can redeem ourselves. They have a chance to define themselves.”

Haugen also spoke of using last week as inspiration for regionals.

“Pain can be a great motivator,” he said. “We were all in a lot of pain after finishing eighth. It was really tough to accept.”

While the team was disappointed with the weekend’s results, some of the racers did well. Kyle Bramm ’08 received an honorable mention all-conference after placing 25th in the meet. Mac’s top racers also included Matt Wegmann ’08, Jakob Wartman ’08, and Tim Burns ’09. Haugen spoke confidently of these runners performing well at regionals as well, as it may be the seniors’ last race.

“With the seniors, it’s very possible we can have a better regional finish than a conference finish,” he said

Mudry attributes the team’s overall performance this year partially to the competition within the team. Although cross-country is an independent sport, he said, team members can still have an effect on each other. “The team [serves] as markers during practices and races. [They] help push each other and be pushed. We wear these bright orange uniforms, so we stand out. Because you know the people you know you can be [successful] because you’ve done it everyday during practice.”

This past meet ended up being one of Mudry’s best ever. Last year, Mudry placed 40th in the race. This year, Mudry finished the 8,000-meter course (just under five miles) in 26:08, placing him 12th out of 204. His time also made him Mac’s number one runner during the meet.

“I was trying to secure one of the top places,” Mudry said. “I was just very relaxed about it. From the very beginning I felt very good about it. I felt very far ahead, and was able to continuously pass people.”

As Mudry prepares for the regional meet at St. Olaf next week, part of him is already thinking about nationals. “Personally it’s [my goal] to go to nationals,” he said. “We’re starting tapering now, your body’s actually recovering, in a sense it actually feels good . it’s now [a matter of] getting to the starting line.”

This confidence, as well as the improvement in performance, is something Mudry picked up in Kenya this summer. Upon the suggestion of a former teammate, Mudry spent his summer training with world-class cross-country runners in Kenya.

“Overall, that was an amazing experience,” he said. “It opened my eyes to being much more confident. Everyday, I was running with Olympians and world-record holders. To get up and run everyday, you had to get over fear.”

This lesson in confidence is what has inspired the goals that Mudry sets for himself. “It’s easy to have a goal to do OK,” he said. “It’s harder to put something out there and try to go for it. The Kenyans would say there’s no difference [between a high goal and an unrealistic goal].”

However, Mudry cautioned in order to accomplish larger goals, you have to set smaller goals within that. You must be able to take the small steps in between the big goals, but not judge your performance off of one day’s disappointments.

“It’s easy to think you need perfect results, perfect training,” Mudry said. “The Kenyans would say that’s unrealistic, there’s plenty of roller coasters in between. You recover and you run better than ever.