The Woody Greeno Invitational, Sept. 15 at the University of Nebraska, offers a step up in competition for Northwest cross country as they continue to push for a peak in November for conference and regional meets.
As Northwest prepares for the Woody Greeno meet, the growth from the Bearcat Open to this point is what caught coach Nick Gibson’s attention.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth already in the past week since we’ve been doing workouts,” Gibson said. “Gave them probably one of the hardest workouts they’ve ever done last week, and they all handled it really well.”
This will be the first meet that Gibson will get to see the breakout star for the Bearcats’ 2018 outdoor track and field team, junior Karim Achengli. Achengli finished his track season last year in the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships placing 12th in the 10,000-meter run, even after losing a shoe and stopping to put it back on.
Achengli’s focus for his first meet of the year is to get a feel of where he is at in his training and learn what he needs to work on before November.
“I’m going to take it as a hard workout, as a test,” Achengli said. “Nothing crazy, I’m just going to see how my fitness is and go from there.”
Both the women’s and men’s teams were led by underclassmen in the first meet of the season, especially on the women’s side. The two freshmen who led the way for the women Bearcats will deal with running against NCAA Division I athletes for the first time in their young career.
The more experienced runners will be charged with challenging the younger group, keeping their minds focused on running and not getting caught up in the spectacle of a Division I meet. One of these experienced runners is junior Jessica Cox.
“We talked about, it is probably going to be a little bit different than high school, especially the small town girls,” Cox said. “They are excited for a new experience and to travel with a collegiate team.”
Achengli is another one of these experienced runners who will help guide the team. For him, the challenge of facing some of the top Division I runners is something he hopes will push him in his first meet.
“It will be perfect,” Achengli said. “They will push the pace, and we just need to follow them and stay close behind.”
For both the men and women, the development through the first few weeks of practices is a positive sign for Gibson. He has spoken of development since the first meeting with the team in late August, and it has been a steady focus early in the season.
With plenty of time before the MIAA Conference meet Nov. 11, the Bearcats’ growth and development in their first year under Gibson will set the example for the years to come.