Cross Country teams optimistic

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Author: Alex Nieves

Rob Bartlett confident men, women will excel

The 2011 season was one of the most successful in recent history for the Occidental men’s and women’s cross country teams. On the men’s side, the Tigers were able to claim their first West Regional Championship since 1991, qualifying for the national championships. The women’s team also finished their season with a very respectable fourth place finish at West Regionals, after coming into the meet predicted to finish seventh.  

Now, as the 2012 season is just underway, both cross country squads are looking to pick up where they left off and improve on last season’s performances. The teams have already put two races behind them, but they have yet to go at full speed. Head Coach Rob Bartlett opted to treat the first race of the season as basically an extra training session, while the runners faced very high temperatures and difficult conditions at their second meet of the season. Illnesses and injuries, including those that have kept Cole Williams (sophomore) and Marnie Kinnaird (junior)–arguably the best runners on the men’s and women’s sides, respectively–sidelined, have also collectively plagued the teams.    

While the conditions have yet to be ideal, Bartlett feels that these early races can only benefit the teams as the season progresses.  

“You have this period where things are going against you a little bit and hopefully we’ll come out stronger,” Bartlett said. “It’ll make us hungry and tougher when we get to the more important part of the season.” 

If there is a possibilty that this group of runners can be even more hungry, then things seem to bode well for the season as both sides already have very high expectations.  

“I think it’s only fair to set our expectations high,” Louis Jochems (sophomore) said. “We have a lot of talent and once we get it all together, I think great things will happen.” 

The coaches echo this mindset for the women’s team as well. “We have really high goals for ourselves,” Deanna Dupuy (senior) said. “We’re hoping to definitely be a contender in the SCIAC, at Regionals, and hopefully at Nationals.” 

Bartlett thinks that there will be a lot of attention  about a familiar name on the men’s side who has a chance to breakout this season. ”It may sound strange, but I think that [Williams] is ready to improve a lot from where he was last year,” Bartlett said. “He was the fifth best freshman in the country at nationals, but I think he’ll be even better this year.”  

On the women’s side, the name of the individual Bartlett expects to excel is not as well known. Dupuy has not run cross country in two years, as she was abroad last fall during the cross country season. But she is coming off a breakout year of track and she is ready to replicate these results on the course. “I think [Dupuy] is gonna surprise people,” Bartlett said. “It’s been two years since she ran cross country for Occidental and she’s a very different athlete now.”   

Both teams have one more tune-up meet before the all important SCIAC Multi-Dual Meet on Oct. 12. But they are already prepared to show that last years results were just the start of what they are capable of becoming.   

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