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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Cross Country prioritizes team cohesiveness this season

Marquette women’s cross-country gets underway at the 2022 Big East Championships. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

As the fall season is only days away, Marquette cross-country athletes are lacing up their shoes and preparing for another year of competition.

Senior Dan Weizeorick said the team’s focus this year is on individual progress, which will help in terms of collective improvement. 

“On the guys’ side we want to know what things went wrong and well for different people in terms of training,” Weizeorick said. “We want to be smart and focus on each one of us. It’s going to benefit us a lot.”

Senior Gretchen Pfeiffer said that their chemistry on the women’s side will benefit them in the long run. 

“We don’t have as many returning players on the girls team this year,” Pfeiffer said. “But I think this year we have a lot more similar racing patterns and we fit together as a group. That is something we learned from last year and can capitalize on that and it will translate into racing.” 

Weizeorick said teamwork and collaboration have been essential components of the training regimen.  

“For the guys especially, we’ve done a good job of communicating with each other,” Weizeorick said. ”Making sure we all are on the same page. It makes it easier to work together.”

Graduate student Mikaela Sullivan said the trust they’ve built from the previous season needs to carry into this year.

“I think we easily develop the trust for each other through our ups and downs and we will be able to lean on each other and grow from there,” Sullivan said.

Head coach Sean Birren said that one change they’ve made is in the way they prepare.    

“We’re switching things up on the frequency of how often we train,” Birren said. “That’s been one of the biggest things we’ve changed.”

Additionally, the team has made adjustments in the weight room and focused on effective communication with strength coaches to enhance their workouts. 

When discussing plans to improve performance at past places they competed, Birren said the change in locations of certain meets will be an adjustment due to the influence of weather and conditions. 

“The biggest thing is we want to try and compare this season as far like time of year,” Birren said. “But it’s going to be hard this year. We have the same titles. It’s the Big East meet and the regional meet, but both of those locations are uniquely different than what they were last year.”

Pfeiffer said pre-race rituals include team dinners and huddles that foster camaraderie and unity. Sullivan has enthusiasm for the team’s unique pre-race circle, which she said symbolizes their shared purpose at a Catholic university. 

Weizeorick said because he’s not superstitious, he believes in the importance of a consistent mindset rather than relying on rituals.

Ahead of races, the athletes listen to music. Pfeiffer said she changes her selection of pre-race songs consistently while Sullivan said she listens to anything but country music.

“It’s too boring for me,” Sullivan said. “If anything, that would make me go to sleep.” 

Birren has implemented a “Keep Running” motto for this season, which he said he hopes soaks into his players’minds as they navigate challenges and strive for excellence in the upcoming season.

“Sports is about building character. We want the athletes to know that we want to accomplish big things but also we’re gonna have failures,” Birren said. “You’re going to get up and go on to the next thing. Take bumps and focus on what we can do better.” 

This story was written by Dakota Barnes-Rush. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @DakotaRushMU.

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Dakota Barnes-Rush
Dakota Barnes-Rush, Sports Reporter
Dakota Barnes-Rush is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but lives in Miami for 9 years. He's majoring in journalism and is a sports reporter for the Marquette Wire. Outside of the Marquette Wire he enjoys watching the NBA, YouTube and hanging out with friends. Dakota is most excited about learning more about each individual sport he covers. He believes the more he knows about the sport the more successful his stories will be.

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