Men’s XC looks to recover from injuries, hit stride

By Jesse Yourish

There are many definitions for insanity, but perhaps the best way to truly understand the term is to head over the stadium some beautiful fall day to watch the Mac Men’s Cross Country team run a mile. While carrying medicine balls. Yes, while other athletes mumble and groan about their comparatively meager punishment runs, there are those walking among us who willingly subject themselves to such torture. The Men’s Cross Country season is now in full tilt, and the Macalester squad has hopes of finishing in the top half of the MIAC standings. Although already three meets into the season, Coach Matt Haugen it still waiting for his first chance to unleash the full team, as injuries have been an issue. The opportunity should come Sept. 29 when the team competes at the Roy Griak Invitational, a meet at the University of Minnesota that draws elite high school, DIII and DI teams from all across the nation. Coming off a ninth place finish last season, the team has its eye on a finish within the top six of the conference, and with a young roster featuring one freshman and five sophomores in the top eight on the Mac team, Haugen expects a continued rise in the coming years. He noted that one key to the squad’s success is that the top six runners are all competing with each other for the number one spot, keeping practices competitive and focused. Among the names to watch out for are Ben Mayhew ’14, who recently smashed the school record for the aforementioned med ball mile with an utterly silly 4:51, Andy Keefe ’13, the current number-one runner, and Joe Giamberdino ’15, who was All-Conference as a freshman last season. They and the rest of the young team will look for guidance from Captain Joe Macula ’13, whose elegant, graceful running style brings to mind a young Emil Zatopek, and fellow seniors Carl “Grandpa” Petri ’13 and Ryan Sutley ’13, who is often referred to as the Ryanoceros for his hard charging running style and rare biological urge to stomp out any fires he encounters.* For students interested in supporting the squad, there are two local meets this season. On Oct. 6 the team will run at St. Kate’s, and on Oct. 27 the teams of the MIAC will gather for the conference meet at Como Park. Teams to watch out for include St. Olaf, whose expected dominance is aided by their controversial use of jet packs during crucial stretches of most races, along with St. John’s and Carleton. Coach Haugen listed several keys to success for the season, including maintaining confidence and a positive attitude. He also stressed the need for team unity in the form of a “Mac Pack” mentality, in which the top finishers all aim to end within 30 seconds of each other and the runners’ post-race focus is on team rather than individual results. Drawing from his own running career, Haugen explained that it is crucial to work hard on hard days and take easy days very easy. Maintaining a discrepancy between those types of workouts is an integral part of a balanced training regimen. The precarious aspect of cross country at this level is that the success of a whole season can be dictated by one or two races. This is illustrated by Haugen’s goals for the team, which include “having an all-conference runner (top-15 in the conference meet), and all-region runner (top-35 in the regional meet), and finishing near the top at the regional meet” which would allow the team a shot at going to Nationals. Although he allowed that the last goal may be lofty for this season, Haugen maintained that the team’s strong young nucleus has vast potential for the coming years. Still, meet results are not the only thing that determines the success of a season. “For the second year in a row, this is my favorite team ever. They’re close, they’re expressive and they love coming to practice,” Haugen said. This year’s iteration of the Mac Pack is tight knit and hardworking, and while they may have an eye on a promising future, they will continue to push for success sooner than most would expect. refresh –>