USC Cross Country Building Upon The Foundation Established Last Season|
Aug. 31, 2016
by Coach David Freeman
This might be the youngest team we have had since my arrival, but it is potentially the most talented top to bottom.
We are building our cross country program. We are adding onto a foundation that we started last season and are growing and growing. We mostly have freshmen and sophomores on the team and actually the only seniors we have are transfers Vivian Grimes and Lorea Ibarzabal. We are starting to develop some depth on the roster and I think that is going to help with practice, especially on the competition side to have quality workouts. I think the biggest benefit is that we have more bodies out there to challenge each other than we have had previously.
This year we are still a young team, but I think we are learning from our experiences last year, not only from cross country, but track season also. We are starting to learn what it takes to be great in the Pac-12 Conference and nationally, so we are going to take those lessons and really work hard throughout the semester and get ready for the Pac-12 Championships at the end of the semester, that is our goal. We want to keep improving, getting better day-by-day and be better by the end of the season, the championship part of the season.
I think we lost a lot of experience with Kat (Berdousi) and Jenna (Tong) to name a few, but I think the young women who came in this year have the talent to contribute right away. Hopefully the sophomores who had that experience last year as freshman can lead them a little bit and show them what to do, how to compete at this level and speed up the learning process. I think by running a lot of freshman last year will pay off this year and in the next couple of years. Our conference is all about being able to compete with the best both mentally and physically, so that’s the part we have to keep working on.
We have a few people that I think will really step up this year. One of them is Amber Gore. She was banged up last year coming into college. Now with a year under her belt and training at this level and gaining the experience in cross country and track, she is bringing that confidence. She did win a state championship in high school, so she knows how to win. Another one that had a good summer was Madison Ricks. Our goal with her is to keep improving her day-by-day and limiting the setbacks. She has talent, unfortunately she had some of the setbacks early in her career. She had a good summer and created a good base and hopefully can continue that during the fall. Redshirt junior Rebekah Ent was our No. 2 runner last season and returns to anchor this year’s squad.
Vivian Grimes is going to be a good contributor to the program. She and Lorea Ibarzabal are graduate students, so they add the experience to our young team. Hopefully the lessons Grimes learned at Boston College, she brings here and hopefully it rubs off with the young athletes. Lorea is from Portland so she has the experience of being part of a cross country team also. I think she will help the younger athletes learn what it takes to be great, not only at the meets, but also at the day in and day out at practice. They both have seen it all and have experienced the ups and downs of college, so I think they can add a lot through their experience.
I think we have the most talent on the cross country team since I’ve been here, it is just that they are young and have to gain that experience and they have to learn what it takes to be great in the Pac-12 and on the national stage.
The difference with this team is that from our No. 1 to our No. 11 runner we are closer together. Our competitiveness at practice shows and they get after it a little more and that is what it takes to build a whole team. I think we are starting to have that. This season we have added a few 6K races during the regular season which should help us prepare for the championship part of the season. We are trying to add to that experience so one of the things we learned is that we need to run more 6Ks so we are used to it.