Colorado Mesa University men’s and women’s cross country runners are preparing to go on the road this weekend. Colorado State University hosts a 5k race on Friday, which will be their first race of the season. Both teams have many returning runners and a few freshmen runners to look out for.

Returning runner Ashlyn Brent will be competing this year after redshirting last year. Lauren Lipski is recovering from a surgery and will not be racing at the start of the season.

On the men’s team, Blake Graff and Mako Watanabe are the runners to watch.

Freshmen to look out for are Abby Oglesby, Jared Kuhn and Trevor Smith. Amy McConnell is another one of the runners to watch out for, as she transferred to CMU this fall from Saginaw Valley State.  

Head coach Matt Canterbury is optimistic both teams can get a high bid into nationals.

A collegiate cross country race is typically six kilometers (3.7 miles) for women and eight kilometers (five miles) for men. The race courses are mostly grass, gravel, and dirt surfaces and may have hills.   

“The toughest course is at Minnesota State because it has hills and many turns which prevent getting into a groove during the race,” Canterbury said.

The short course (5k) race on Friday will give the runners a chance to see the competition and get their race legs going before the regular distance races.

Women’s captain Melissa Anderson had the quickest feet at practice Thursday morning.

“The girls are looking pretty strong. We have a pretty new team, so a lot of them are adjusting to college lifestyle,” Anderson said.

The cross country teams have been practicing twice daily to prepare for the start of the racing season. Their routine distance run starts at 6 a.m. After running, they go to class and then they have an easy afternoon run to get them in top running shape.

The runners are ready to race.

A few runners on both teams suffered recent illness or minor injuries and will not run the first race this season. Canterbury plans for all the runners on both teams to be racing by the end of the season.

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