Men’s cross country team have eyes set on the win
Edgar Ayala – Sports Writer
The men’s cross country team at Southern Connecticut have their eyes set on winning all three major tournaments this season.
The Northeast-10 Championship, the Northeast Regional Championship and the NCAA Championship are this season’s objective, according to cross country head coach John Wallin.
“As with every team, in every season the expectations are to win,” Wallin said. “The goal is to win all three, but that’s easier said than done.”
And as with every college sports team, there comes a time when you need to scout and rebuild.
This season team features six new faces on the roster; Haroon Chaudhry, Andrew DiSaia, Luke Grandpre, Devin Guimaraes, Tyler Mann and Jesus Osuba, who look set to be the future for the Owl runners.
Before their first race on Sept. 19 in North Dartmouth, Mass., Coach Wallin said that the team is still progressing with their conditioning and lifting as they prepare for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
One player, Dean Bhatt, a senior majoring in physical education and captain of the cross country team, said the team has been training every other day since the start of the summer.
“We’ve been doing double sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and rest Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Bhatt. “Then we go out for a long run on Sunday, which is around 15 to 16 miles.”
“We also added in a new core workout in the morning. We’re doing a lot more conditioning and practices than last year, which is definitely going to benefit us in our races.”
Yet it’s no surprise that Coach Wallin has no issue with the conditioning of the players, but noted that his biggest concern is creating a better “pack” mentality with his top five runners.
Dieter Gutbrod, a senior majoring in sociology and the second captain of the cross country team, agreed with Coach Wallin that the “pack” mentality is the way to go for this season.
“We want to focus on getting the team in races to stick together,” Gutbrod said. “While running may seem like an individual sport, if my teammates and I cross the finish line around the same time, our team gets a better score. So our plan is to make sure our teammates are always with us, in order to get a better overall score for the team.”
As the team progresses with their conditioning and strategizes their season for the opening race, just last week the team was ranked No. 8 in United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association East Region preseason rankings.
“Its exciting to be ranked in the top 10,” said the two-time captain Dean Bhatt.
“I’m hoping we can do a little bit better but we’ll see what happens. We have a young squad, a new squad with lots of freshmen and transfers, so we’ll see how everyone does.”
Likewise, Gutbrod was also happy that the team was ranked at No. 8 in preseason. But didn’t get too ahead of himself when he heard about the news.
“I expect us to work hard,” Gutbrod said. “Now that we’ve been given this ranking a lot of people are going to be looking up to us… or against us, so there’s going to be added pressure to perform well.”
According to Wallin, captains Bhatt and Gutbrod are going to be key players for the upcoming season. He added that both are the hardest working players on the team and take their roles as captains to be very serious.
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications