ARLINGTON, Texas – From the training to the traveling, the UTA men’s and women’s cross country teams are more like one family than two teams. Laughs. Tears. Celebrations. Disappointments. Camaraderie. Competition.
They’ve been through it all together and, as die-hard runners, all share the same passion for what they do. Runners just simply understand runners.
“Cross (country) is really special,” Joel Duren, a junior on the men’s team, said. “It’s really intimate. It isn’t a huge team, and we know we are all in it together. I feel like absolutely we have improved team building this year with a focus on staying together. We hold each other accountable.”
Whether it’s the men cheering the women, the women supporting the men or the men and women pushing their own teams, it doesn’t matter.
“Both the guys and the girls bust their tails every day,” UTA senior women’s runner Tori Shelton said. “We come together by motivating each other. Unlike other sports, there aren’t different positions on the team. It’s such an individual sport, but we are all after the same goal. At the end of the day, we all understand each other and our struggles.”
The squads will be tested Friday in College Station at the NCAA South Central Regional. The top two teams and the first four finishers in the race not associated with those two teams will advance to the NCAA Championships, held Nov. 18 in Louisville.
The UTA men enter the championships ranked eighth in the regional standings, while the women are outside the top 15. Last month, the Maverick men finished as the Sun Belt Conference runner up, while the women took eighth.
Both Duren and Shelton earned all-conference accolades for their strong individual finishes, but both are thinking about their teams heading into Friday’s meet.
“We feel like it’s good to have the regionals to get some redemption,” Duren said. “If you stick with it and keep training and staying positive, it’s a great opportunity to prove yourself.”
The women’s 6k race will begin at 9:15 a.m., while the men’s 10k will commence at 10:15 a.m.
“It’s bittersweet,” Shelton said about her final regional race. “It’s felt like such a long journey. I’m just going to go all out. I want to just to leave it all out there on the course. Anything I can give, that’s is what I’m going to give.”
The Dale Watts Cross Country Course will serve as the site. UTA ran the course in September at the Texas A&M Invitational. Live results will be available at http://flashresults.com/2018_Meets/xc/NCAASC/.
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For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics. Follow the UTA cross country/track & field program @UTA_Track on Twitter.
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