Men and Women Cross Country Look to Answer Questions Saturday
Sept. 17, 2009
ARLINGTON, Texas - Eric Montou leads the pack right now.
But for how long, is up to him. The UTA men's cross-country team is in search of its lead runner, and thanks to the freshman Montou's sixth place performance last weekend at TCU, he's the head candidate for the Mavs' lead runner. Well at least, that's what the results showed.
"Well, somebody had to be the top freshman," coach John Sauerhage said with caution. "I wouldn't say I predicted it, but it doesn't surprise me that he's running well. He's going to have to run better."
Right now the most pressing issue for the men, according to Sauerhage, is the need for someone to establish himself as the teams top runner. A lack of a lead runner will mean a lack of top individual finishes and less quality team performances Sauerhage said.
"Someone has to emerge on this group as a front-runner," Sauerhage said. "If that doesn't happen we'll struggle to have a high finish in the big meets."
What Sauerhage is preaching for now is patience. For him and his coaching staff, they have their worked cut out for them.
"The thing we have to do as a coaching staff with this team is be patient and keep trying to make progress every week," Sauerhage said. "There are a lot of good athletes in this group."
What makes it even harder for Sauerhage to teach the freshmen is first teaching them to train at a college level. Sauerhage knows all too well that most of these freshmen were the prized runners at their respective high schools. Not anymore once they entered college.
"They're all their own kings in their own worlds where they came from," Sauerhage said. "Having to fall in line and be a teammate and having an organized and structured training are all new to them."
Then there's the women's side which almost has almost the exact opposite of a situation. While the men are trying to learn how to run at the college level and compete, Sauerhage wants a top three finish in the conference from his women's squad.
"The girls are vying for a top three finish and could even contend for the (conference) championship," Sauerhage said. "Polar opposites almost with the men's side."
Compared to the men, the women have already their established top runner. Junior Amanda McMahon has been given that label. But what impressed Sauerhage the most at the TCU Season Opener two weeks ago was the surprising finish of sophomore Jennifer Carey.
"She ran right with Amanda which was kind of a surprise," Sauerhage said. "To see Jennifer stepping it up and running with the girl that's pegged to be our top runner, that's an impressive performance."
The fourth place finish wasn't something Sauerhage was hoping for either. With the way the women trained for the past two weeks though, he's optimistic that the women will see a high finish this weekend.
"They had a great workout on Tuesday," Sauerhage said. "I'm optimistic the girls are going to have a good meet."
The men and women will compete at the Ken Garland Invitational in Denton, Texas Saturday at 8 a.m.