The men and women’s cross country teams are definitely looking to improve upon last season’s trip to the NCAA South Regional as a team. With seventh place finishes between the two squads at the Atlantic Sun tourney, Coach Ryan Bailey has been preparing the teams to chase down new heights as individuals and teammates. They put a heavy emphasis on summer preparations in order to prepare for the upcoming season.
“I told the team to come back in great aerobic condition to achieve the goals we have for this season. We gain confidence from competence, so we will be training smarter than ever this season,” Coach Bailey said. They are looking to have fast tempo runs lined up, so they can peak at the end of the season.
Most on the team are looking to the Royal Cross Country Challenge in Charlotte, N.C. on Oct. 14. That will be the final chance to work any kinks out of the line-up and perfect the running techniques by each individual runner. All runners expect to be in incredibly good shape and be breaking records over and over.
In order to prepare for this grueling season, Coach Bailey had the top guys on the team running 100 miles a week and the top girls at 70 miles per week. “Summer volume is the ‘fuel’ for the season. The more fuel you collect, the more you have to draw from once in-season training gets underway. I think, generally speaking, we have ample fuel for the season,” said Coach Bailey when asked about the conditioning that the team underwent on their personal time this past summer.
According to Bailey, the Bears have not hit their ceiling and will continue to elevate. This is the deepest the team has been in years, and everyone is focused and dialed in to compete at the various meets. Mercer will travel to Athens for the UGA Invitational, to Americus for the Georgia Southwestern Remembrance Run (women only), to Louisville for the Greater Louisville Sports Commission Cross Country Festival, to Charlotte for the Royal Cross Country Challenge, to Nashville for the Atlantic Sun Championships, and will once again host the Mercer Runfit Sports Invitational.
Mercer is looking to perform well in order to qualify for the NCAA South Regionals in Tuscaloosa in November. Who will represent the men at these meets this season is a story in itself, as Coach Bailey himself has gone on record to say that a lot of position changes could be likely, since the men were “hungry, so you can’t predict what will happen within the team standings.”
The women look to be led by Kacie Niemann again, but Sammy Woller is quickly catching up in terms of performance. Based on solid performances at the spring’s Auburn Invitational, the Bears have a lot to look forward to. Coach Bailey has also seen his certification level rise for several events by the USATF, or USA Track and Field.
With the highest possible certification for Endurance Events, the Bears can be sure that they are getting quality instruction as they attempt to rewrite the record books.