Marquette Cross Country: Senior latent team

The time is 6 a.m., the sun is still sleeping, and the only decision on the minds of most Marquette students is which side of the pillow is cooler.

Senior Kate Horan is not a normal Marquette student.

A leader of this year’s women’s cross-country team, Horan has participated in team-organized early training sessions to prepare for the upcoming season.  To many, this would seem an extraordinary task. For Horan and her teammates, it comes with the job.

“Basketball players shoot 100 free throws a day to get better,” Horan said. “I am not always excited for an early run, but if you love the sport, you do what it takes to get better.”

While coping with the graduation of their leading runner Olivia Johnson, the women aim to improve on their 10th place finish in the Big East championship. Horan believes that the team’s more difficult schedule will allow for better preparation.

“The competition pushes you to work hard and finish the race,” explained Horan. “It allows you to surprise yourself.”

Fifth-year coach Mike Nelson tries to approach coaching on a more individual level, constantly pushing his runners to reach their potential.

“Where you finish in cross country isn’t always up to you,” Nelson said. “Just focus on yourself to run your best race.”

Although he does not know what to expect from his team, Nelson said the women’s team is showing great determination in the start of the year.

“Every class will have girls making major contributions to the team. It is going to be interesting to see who our top runners are going to be,” Nelson said. “I’m confident we will have a mix of girls competing on a high level. I’m excited.”

Horan, along with fellow seniors Alyssa Best, Bekki Misanine and Carly Windt hope to lead the team both on and off the track and are impressed with the new recruits so far.

“At the first meets it’s important to improve on every girl,” Windt said. “The Crusader Open is a good meet to test fitness, get Big East competition and see where the team is at.”

According to Windt, Nelson has done a good job setting attainable goals for the new and returning girls. She shares two of his primary goals: improving Marquette’s position in the Big East standings, and helping the younger girls along.

“We can break into the top 10 in the conference and the top 15 in our region,” Windt said.  “There are some younger girls who have so much potential. It usually takes a season to get adjusted, but some can break into our top seven this year.”

The team opens the season at the Crusader Open on Sept. 2.