The men’s and women’s cross country teams open their season on Friday, and both are looking to improve upon last season’s results on the trail.
Both teams finished a disappointing 12th place at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships last year. The team was not devoid of strong individual performances, though, and the Canes will try to turn these individual accomplishments – of junior Ryan Woodlee, senior Tim Harris and junior Ena Leufroy – into team success.
Both teams will open their seasons this Friday, Sept. 5, at the Greentree Invitational. This is the only event that the program will host this season. The Hurricanes will be joined by Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University and Florida Gulf Coast at this first meet.
Neither team will leave the state of Florida for the first five meets of the season, which includes a trip to Orlando for the UCF Invitational, Gainesville for the Mountain Dew Invitational, Titusville for the Florida Runners Invitational and Orlando for the Disney Invitational.
The teams then head to North Carolina for the final meet of the regular season. The teams will have one final tune-up in Boone, N.C., at the Blue Ridge Open before they gear up for the ACC Championships, the NCAA Regional Championships and the NCAA Championships.
While the Hurricanes are looking to improve a few things on the course, there are some positive things for the team to build on.
This past season the men’s cross country team won the 2007 Sportsmanship Award for the ACC. This was given to the Hurricanes for showing the attitude of a champion at all times. Players and coaches from around the conference voted on the award.
The team has also been working hard in the classroom, placing in the top 10 percent in the NCAA academic progress report. For the accomplishment, the men’s team, along with the men’s track and field team, received the NCAA Public Recognition Award.
“The members of the track and cross country teams are truly student-athletes. They train very hard for competition but they put an equal amount of energy and work into their academic studies,” men’s track coach Mike Ward said. “The recognition they are receiving is a result of that hard work and the efforts of our academic support personnel.”
Last season, the teams won a few meets and lost a few meets, but this year they plan on not only duplicating the successes, but building on the learning experiences to hopefully improve their ACC standing.