SEASON PREVIEW: With new competition, Cross Country is ready to compete after no 2020-21 season

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Cross Country runs in the 2018 Vic Godfrey Open. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletic.)

Coming off a year where their season was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Marquette men’s and women’s cross country teams are eager to begin the 2021 season.

“I am very excited,” senior Jordan Janusiak said. “It has been a lot of anticipation buildup and instead of the normal racing excitement, it is ten times more.”

Senior Emily Noone mentioned given last year’s circumstances, she is confident heading into the season.

“Personally, I put in a lot of work this summer preparing for the cross country season, because we didn’t have much of a season last year,” Noone said. “I really wanted  this one to go well. That’s not just for me, it’s a lot of my teammates done. They put in a lot of work.”

Janusiak said from having extra time off from competition, it has allowed the team to stay in good health.

“When we are in season, we have to kind of back our mileage down but since we didn’t have a season we had the opportunity to grind through a lot of the year that we normally wouldn’t,” Janusiak said. “A lot of people are coming in a lot more fit than they have in past years so that’s really exciting.”

Both teams spent the time away from each other this summer working on their craft so that they can intertwine their abilities for this upcoming season. Without having a season last year, both squads had more time to train and prepare extra for a returner to the BIG EAST conference, the University of Connecticut.

“Having UCONN in the conference is definitely motivation for us,” Noone said. “They do have a good distance program, so we are keeping our eyes open on them.

Janusiak said though the Huskies are deep in quality runners, the Golden Eagles have the makings to stand out in the conference as well.

“UCONN has a lot of good runners, but I think through our outdoor track season we kind of got a feel of what they have and what we have,” Janusiak said. “I definity think we can place Top 5 as a team and have the potential to have three people to be All-Conference on the men’s side.”

Another opponent Noone said the team has their eyes on is Butler.

Looking towards this season, the Golden Eagles bring back a wealth of experience on the women’s side with 12 of the 15 members from last year’s team returning.

Senior Emily Foley and sophomore Kate Jochims headline the women’s side.

Foley racked up three top 25 finishes in 2019 and finished 40th overall at last year’s conference championships. Meanwhile, Jochims became the first Golden Eagle to finish and claim 26th overall at the conference championships last year. 

Noone said first-year Audrey Grimm is another one to look out for on the women’s side. “She’s doing pretty well”.

Alongside Janusiak, junior August Beyer returns as headliners on the men’s side. Beyer set a personal-best 8k time of 24:44.5 at last year’s BIG EAST Championships.

Janusiak mentioned David Zeller and Dan Weizeorick are expected to be strong contenders again on the men’s side this year.

He further mentioned that with overcoming the adversity of not having a season last season, he will come from having a mindset of perseverance.

“Wanting to race will have a lot of impact on really good race outcomes,” Janusiak said.

Both Janusiak and Noone hinted Marquette fans have something to look out for with this year’s team.

“They can look forward to a lot of fast times and a lot of good results. Our like men’s and women’s team have a lot of talent this year,” Janusiak said. “(I) think it’s really gonna play out in a pretty cool way and be a historical season. So I’m excited for that.”

Meanwhile for Noone, she touched on the ups and downs of the season.

“Marquette fans should try to stay tuned to see our progress as the season progresses, especially building up to conference,” Noone said. “We are going to do really well”.

With it being Jansuiak’s final season at Marquette, his goal and expectations for the year are high.

“My goal is definitely to rebuild the competitive side of our team because we have been on our own so long,” Janusiak said. “We have a lot of good runners. We shouldn’t be seeing our names in regional rankings as like conference contenders. That’s my goal to revitalize a lot of the competitive spirit on the cross country team.”

This story was written by Johnnie Brooker. He can be reached at johnnie.brooker@marquette.edu.