With a little more than a week as Bearcat assistant coach, Nick Gibson searched for one thing from the men and women competing Aug. 31 – effort.
The underclassman were the ones who stepped up, leading the way for both the men’s and women’s teams. A pair of freshmen claimed the top two spots for the women in the 5,000-meter run. Keely Danielson and Caroline Ross placed third and fourth with times of 20:37.73 and 20:49.92
On the men’s side, sophomore Max Martin and freshman Zach Hougland topped the results of the 4.2 mile run for the Bearcats. Martin finished in fifth place at 22:53.70, while Hougland landed 15th, posting a 24:02.02. Gibson said the success of the underclassmen will help the entire team moving forward.
“It leads us to know we are going to be better in the future,” Gibson said. “On the women’s side, two freshmen finishing one-two is nice to see.”
Part of the growth will come from the upperclassman leadership on the team. Both the men and women had at least one junior or senior finish as a top five runner for the team. For the women, seniors Maria Mostek and Mikayla Engeman finished top ten overall. Mostek placed fifth at 21:00.23 and Engeman was ninth clocking 21:50.29.
Both Engeman and Mostek have been running the Bearcat Open’s rigorous Donaldson Park course for three years. Engeman said handling the course can be overwhelming at times, and that is what she communicated to her younger teammates.
“The biggest thing was just telling them and letting them know it’s gonna suck and it’s OK, it’s going to be tough,” Engeman said. “If you are willing to go into it knowing it’s going to be tough, it’s easier to think, ‘OK this is going to be tough, but I’m going to respond to it.’”
Despite only having a year of experience on the course, Martin offered his advice to first year runners regarding how to handle the first meet.
“My advice to the younger runners would be to go out and be a little conservative, and from there go compete and race,” Martin said.
The Bearcats will have plenty of time to prepare and take the next step in training before the next meet Sept. 15 at the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska. The focus for Martin and the men’s team will be getting back into competition shape.
“For me and the guys’ team, as a whole we are not as fit as we wanted to be going to this first meet,” Martin said. “The next four weeks are going to be really important to make sure everyone is catching up fitness wise so we can be successful in the future.”