Cross country seeks student involvement
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 17:10
The Roosevelt University Lakers men’s and women’s cross country teams are in running in somewhat of different lanes this year.
The men’s team is attempting to qualify for Nationals, and the women’s team is working on developing skills and adapting to running.
“The women’s side is at a different phase in growth,” said Coach Kevin Licht. “The goal is to have the women’s team match what the guys are doing, but they’re just not there yet.”
Licht said the men’s team is doing better than expected.
“We’re on a trajectory right now where we’re prepared to run incredibly well at the conference meet. Typically we start off a lot slower in the year.”
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Cross Country Nationals are Nov. 17 in Vancouver, Wash. Seniors Aaron King and Alex Agafonov are attempting to make it to that level of competition.
“We’re making sure we’re taking care of the small things,” King said. “We’re focusing on getting enough sleep, training regularly and staying in on weekends.”
King and Agafonov are each individually running 90 plus miles a week, sometimes running 18 miles at a time.
“The benefits are performance related,” Licht said. “There’s a major difference between an athlete that runs 50 miles a week and one that runs 90 miles a week. Professional runners sometimes run 160 miles a week. If you want to get up to that level, you have to do the work.”
However, the Lakers also have runners at the lower end of the spectrum. These runners are on the team for various reasons, including for weight loss and for fun.
“We’re competitive where we need to be competitive,” Licht said. “We have a guy on the team, Martin Espino, and everything about him is awesome. He’ll never be an Aaron or an Alex, though. I don’t want him to be that. I want him to show up a couple times a week, be around the guys and have fun.”
“We’re better than last year,” King said. “The guys that were here last year have adapted more to training and the more mileage that we do. We’re used to it now. We have a full team, and everyone is more committed.”
According to Licht, the more advanced members of the team run daily, but the less advanced members run less. Some are coming back from injuries or are younger in their development. Some team members put in only five miles a week.
“That’s the beauty of running,” Licht said. “It caters to anyone. All you have to do is be willing to do it on a regular basis, and you’ll enjoy it.”
For King, racing is his source of enjoyment.
“I like the competitive side of running,” he said. “Training is just lame because I want to race so bad, but to get good, we have to train. I like beating people. Running is something everyone can do, and if you can beat people at that, it’s cool.”
The team wants to finish in the top five spots in its conference, according to Licht. Currently, the Lakers are ranked seventh in their conference.
“The team members really, genuinely care about each other,” Licht said. “Every team will have its issues, and we’re not exempt from that. But they don’t talk behind each other’s backs. They’re very direct with each other. We really like where this team is headed.”
There are three freshmen on the team this year, and, according to King, they are adapting well and help out with scoring.
“Next year, hopefully the freshmen will step up and do what they have to do to get the team to Nationals,” Licht said.
The team practices Monday through Friday at 2:30 p.m. and meets in the Wabash fitness center yoga/dance studio.
“The reason our practice is at 2:30 is, what time do you go to see the dentist?” Licht said. “Tooth-hurty. That way athletes never forget what time to show up.”
Students interested in getting involved with cross country or running can email Licht at firstname.lastname@example.org or show up at a practice.
Licht is starting a Roosevelt Running Club, as well, for students who do not want to run far distances.
“I feel there are benefits for people who want to be part of a group and do some running,” he said. “We want to get those people involved. Our concept is ‘the more the merrier.’ Some teams on this campus have very set numbers on how many people can participate. We’re the exact opposite. I never want to make cuts or tell somebody they’re not good enough.”
The Roosevelt Running Club will meet for the first time on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Wabash fitness center.
“By the way, I want to say hey to GianCarlo [Vassallo],” King said. “He’s coming off a big injury, and he’s running really well. He hasn’t ran in a year.”
Interested in running? What’s your best mile? Tweet us @RUTorch