Story by Keenan Hall, staff writer
Murray State’s Men’s and Women’s cross country team will travel to Charleston, Illinois for the OVC championship meet on homecoming Saturday.
Seniors Mark Ventura and Gavin Galanes will be running in their final OVC cross country meet for the men’s team. Ventura has had a pair of personal records in back-to-back weekends. Ventura’s latest was 25:17.6 in the black 8k race at pre-nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. As for the men’s team, they will be attempting to win their first championship since 1986.
For the women, senior Meagan Smith has lead the way for the Racers women’s cross country this season. Smith has two top-10 finishes this season for Murray State, in Southern Indiana and Eastern Illinois. The Racers women’s team will be striving to win their first cross country championship since 1979.
Head Coach Adam Kiesler and his staff has prepared his team all summer and season to showcase their skills at the OVC meet. The course will be a familiar atmosphere and will potentially benefit the Racers. Kiesler predicted that his team will have a comfort level in place going into the weekend.
“We went to this course for our very first meet this season,” Kiesler said. “Everybody has run this course before so the good thing about that is there won’t be any surprises.”
Kiesler wants his team to apply everything they’ve worked on for the OVC meet.
“We’ve been talking to them about being aggressive and also competing,” Kiesler said. “Making sure each time they see another color jersey to make sure they try to race them each time they pass someone. Hopefully they’ll be aggressive and smart at the same time.”
All 12 teams in the OVC will be competing in the meet on Saturday and the meet will last all day. Temperatures are expected to be around a high of 50 degrees for the day of the meet. Kiesler has confidence his team will be ready to endure low temperatures in Illinois.
“It will be cold, but unlike sprinters, jumpers and throwers, this is something they would probably not prefer but something they are used to,” Kiesler said. “They also practice in the mornings so even if it’s 70 degrees in the afternoon it’s probably 40 degrees in the morning so they are used to working out in the cold.”
This will be Kiesler’s first OVC meet as head coach of the Racers cross country team. Kiesler said he expects his seniors to show up and also the underclassmen to perform well too.
Kiesler and his staff has told his team that personal records is not what the conference championship meet is about.
“We have a good mix of talent at each class,” Kiesler said. “It’s not really a thing about PRs or time, but it’s about competing against everybody else.”