Kenosha meet gives cross country edge

Home field advantage will be given to the Marquette men’s and women’s cross country teams for the first time this year when they host the Big East Cross Country Championships Saturday.

The race will be held at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha, Wis., which the team competed on during the Midwest Collegiate Open  Sept. 19.

Coach Mike Nelson said his teams are excited to host this meet on a course they’ve raced and trained on, because it will give them a definite edge.

“Not only have we raced on (this course), but we’ve trained on it five or six times this year too,” Nelson said. “(Our athletes) know every inch of the course at this point. They know strategically what to do.”

Junior Olivia Johnson cited some specific characteristics of the course that the Marquette teams know but others may not.

“We know we’ve got to get out well on this course, because it’s more difficult to pass people there. We know that at the third mile there’s that one hill that’s left,” Johnson said. “Those little things you’re prepared for make it so there are no surprises on the course.”

Besides the home field advantage, the teams planned their training for the year so at this time they would be in their best shape. Junior Brice Cleland said the men’s team should do well in the 4.9-mile race.

“This definitely should be our best performance of the year. We’ve been training the whole year for this one event,” Cleland said. “Everyone on the team has been having good workouts lately. We all look like we’re in better shape than we were earlier in the year.”

Cleland hopes the men can muster a top 10 finish.

“I’d like for us to finish seventh. That’s as well as we’ve ever finished in the Big East Conference,” Cleland said. “With so many talented teams in the conference that’d be a really good spot to be in.”

On the women’s side, Nelson’s sights are set on toppling a particular team.

“We’d really like to beat Louisville,” Nelson said. “We’ve raced them twice this year. They beat us by a few points at the Midwest Collegiate Open, and they beat us by a few points at the Pre-Nationals meet.”

Johnson wants a top 10 finish for the team in the 3.7-mile race.

“We were tied for seventh last year with Louisville, and we’d like to get ahead of them,” she said. “I haven’t looked at the teams specifically enough to say we should finish in the top five, but I’d like (the team) to finish higher than or at least as high as last year.”