Women’s cross country get ready to soar at Eagle Invitational

Matthew McKay

This Friday will be a venture into unfamiliar territory as the Augustana women’s cross country will compete in the Benedictine Eagle invitational in Warrenville, IL at 4 p.m..
Though this is the Vikings first time in this race, they are well-versed in new experiences. Earlier this season, the team ran in the Mount Mercy Mustang Gallop for the first time. Senior and captain Sophia Ries was not phased when she found out the Vikings would be running in another new competition.
“Part of cross country is that no two races are ever going to be the same,” Ries said. “Whether it’s the course or the weather, each race is going to be different so you have to prepare for that.”
Although the Vikings have to deal with an unfamiliar course, according to junior Amanda Nelson, the invitational will be a great opportunity for the team to see fellow CCIW competition, such as North Central College,  before the conference championship this fall.
“We are going to use this as a tune-up before conference. We can get a feel for how other CCIW teams are running and some of the strategies they use,” Nelson said.
Nelson and company will be looking to keep their successful steak going coming off of their only home meet. The Vikings placed 6th in the meet, and were led by Nelson, who has been the top finisher in every one of the Viking’s meets so far.
Nelson’s success can be attributed to a number of different factors, but Nelson’s new strategy during meets has helped her tremendously.
“I used to blow out the first mile and the rest of the run would be painful,” Nelson said. “ If I settle down the first mile or so, I can speed up later in the race and pass up a lot of girls.”
The Vikings runners attribute much of their success to their head coach David Thompson because of his understanding and caring attitude toward his players.
“Dave is never opposed to giving us some time off if something doesn’t feel right. He always makes sure we push ourselves, but not to the point of injury. He doesn’t make you feel guilty if you have to miss a day or two of practice,” Nelson Said.
Along with working on the health of his runners, Ries said Thompson has been working on strategy with all his runners this past week to use at the Eagle Invitational.
“Dave will tailor our workouts to what he wants us to work on that week. This week, we worked on getting faster during a race, so we did some progression runs to get us ready for that,” Ries said.