Cross-country trains for OVC

Story by Tierra Reese, Contributing writer

At the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic, the Murray State cross-country team competed during rainy weather conditions.

The men ran in their first 8K race of the season and the women ran in the 5K race.

The men’s team finished second to last, putting them in 22nd place. The women finished in 15th place.

Mark Ventura, junior from Slade, Kentucky, was the top runner with the best time of 26 minutes, 22 seconds in the 8K from Murray State. Ventura said although the team as a whole did not finish as well as he had hoped for, the added interval training starting this week will help for better results in the next competition.

“We’ve been doing a lot of fartleks (long distance training method), but with intervals, you can go as fast as you can so that should increase our speed,” Ventura said. “I am looking forward to that training hitting us in the future. She wants us to have that training under us for OVC, which is our main goal.

Ventura said the first 8K run is always difficult, especially for the freshmen, but this year Ventura said they did well and a lot better than he did as a freshman.

“Usually, our first 8K is pretty slow just because we’re not used to it and it’s the freshmen’s first 8K ever but they performed way better than my first 8K,” Ventura said. “They killed it.”

Zach Balleau, freshman, from Eureka, Missouri, placed second top runner for Murray State with a time of 26 minutes, 41 seconds.

Head Coach Jenny Swieton, said she will be switching up the workout routines to be prepared for the Notre Dame competition coming up in a few weeks.

“We will actually do one less workout a week, since they have been used to three a week, but the ones that we will do will be harder. The races that are coming up are bigger and more important so we will hit it hard, but they will need more time for recovery,” Swieton said.

Racing in the rain and mud, Meagan Smith, junior from Danville, Kentucky, finished with a time of 18 minutes, 34 seconds in the 5K. Smith said she had a 10-second improvement from the past meet at Belmont.

“I think I did well in the first two-thirds of the race, I just need to work on continuing to push through the finish, that last mile,” Smith said.

Smith said she is showing the freshmen the ropes this year into their collegiate careers.

“Overall, I think we are doing really well,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been improving. I think we’re getting stronger as a team. We’ve been working together really well during the race. I think this is definitely the strongest team we have  had in a long time.”

Both teams will compete on Sept. 24 at Austin Peay State before another big meet at Notre Dame the following week.