Oklahoma Christian University men’s cross country placed third as a team in the Lone Star Conference last week.
The Eagles finished with an average time of 25:55, one of three teams to boast a sub-26 minute average time in the eight-thousand meter race. Head coach Wade Phillips spoke on how the distance will change heading into the South Central regional meet.
“Our distance will go from an 8k race to a 10k race,” Phillips said. “There’s an additional component with an extra 2k distance. That and the large field of high quality athletes.”
Phillips described how the team was going to approach the race.
“The first part of the race is going to be important,” Phillips said. “I’m talking through who to expect will be around us and who we need to key off of on other teams.”
Senior Colton Brown crossed the finish line first for Oklahoma Christian, finishing with a time of 25:29.1 and earning ninth place in the conference. The other scoring runners included sophomore Tegan Arega with a time of 25:43.9 for 13th place, senior Jess Dunsmore running 26:00.1 for 20th, senior Austin McNair going 26:09.9 at 23rd and junior Dylan Burrows finishing with a time of 26:13.3 for 24th. Phillips took a moment to highlight the team as a whole.
“We’ve had different athletes finishing first for us all year, kind of switching on and off,” Phillips said. “So I don’t think it’s going to be one individual, I think it’s going to be a collective group with everybody chipping away and trying to improve on previous performances.”
Junior Dylan Burrows spoke about his experience racing with Oklahoma Christian.
“It’s a good experience,” Burrows said. “It’s always fun when there’s more of a team atmosphere in cross country.”
Senior Jess Dunsmore expressed gratitude for the team and their energy.
“It helps you pull more out of yourself when you see how much of the team has invested each week,” Dunsmore said. “You see all of your teammates giving 100 percent, and it allows you to get more out of yourself.”
Burrows spoke on handling the pressure of competition and running your own race despite everyone else’s times and paces.
“You kind of know your own fitness level, and since we train as a team all the time, you can judge off of them,” Burrows said. “After that, you don’t necessarily know how quick or slow the other guys are on that start line. You have the few reference points you get, and that’s it.”
Burrows shared his goals and the team’s as a whole entering the regional meet.
“I’m looking to run around the top 30 or 40,” Burrows said. “Everyone on the team has had the same goal this whole year, and that’s to make it through to nationals, trying to become top five or six as a team.”
Dunsmore spoke on other team goals for the meet.
“I know our region is renowned to be one of the more difficult ones,” Dunsmore said. “But I feel we’re up for the challenge.”
Dunsmore and Burrows both expressed excitement for the upcoming meet.
“I’m looking forward to just going,” Burrows said. “Everyone’s been looking real fit at practice. I’m looking to go out and hopefully show out on fitness and put up a good result.”
“It really could be our last dance if it doesn’t go our way,” Dunsmore said. “But that’s also exciting because the toughest competition is the type of competition you prefer to race against in the grand scheme of things, because it’s how you get the best test of your fitness.”
The Eagles race in the South Central regional championship in Lubbock, Texas, this Saturday, Nov. 4.