By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mentality and attitude are important in every sport but especially cross country, where your biggest opponent is the clock and often yourself. That is why Hannah Weiss, the fourth-year head coach of Capital University Men's and Women's Cross Country, knows that the earlier her runners can begin developing that mental strength the better.
The teams have four races in the first four weeks of the season, something that Weiss said is not ideal but just how the schedule shook out. She has already told the runners that they may not feel fresh heading into each race but that that is an opportunity to test the mental strength they’ve been building up.
“Our goal in those races is to use them as checkpoints,” she said. “When it’s all said and done someone else can have a fantastic day or a terrible day but you can’t control anything about what they do. You have to give your best effort regardless of if that places you first or last or anywhere in between. That’s what you can control.”
With that said, Weiss has been extremely pleased with how each of the runners have worked to get into race shape.
“I tell kids that the summer is the first half of their cross country season,” she said. “If you look at most of the kids and when they started their summer training, that was 13 weeks ago. There are 12 weeks now until nationals. So you’re over halfway done with your season and we’re just getting started. What you decided to do or not do during the summer is entirely going to affect how your season is going to be.”
On the men’s side, Andrew Rus and Nathan Hutchins are the two most experienced members of the team and Weiss said that they will be important examples of the strides the younger runners can make. Christian Vermillion is also returning after taking a year off. Jonas Pyle, a sprinter-turned-distance athlete rounds out the upperclassmen.
“(Jonas’) body was not handling traditional sprinter work really well so we decided to move him up to middle distance, and he’s done much better in that realm, so we bumped him up to cross country,” Weiss said. “He’s adapted to it really, really well. While his mileage is still rather low compared to most distance runners he’s doing very well for not having the same aerobic background that many other people with his background would have.”