Upcoming tournament a gauge for Big 12 meet

Julie Thompson

The Longhorns will split up this weekend, with seven runners competing at the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational in Indiana and six running at the Concordia University Invitational in Round Rock.

The Pre-Nationals Invite will feature runners from 80 teams competing between two races. Each school is only allowed to send seven runners.

With the Big 12 Championships taking place in two weeks, it’s important for head coach Steve Sisson to have the rest of the team compete this weekend.

“The idea is to basically have them run the same day, keep them on the same training schedule and go into the Big 12 meet with the best nine athletes on the starting line,” Sisson said.

The Longhorns posted perfect scores at the first two meets — placing runners in all top five spots. Sisson, however, feels that the smaller initial meets are too different from Pre-Nationals for him to accurately predict how his team will do.

“We are happy with the races we have had,” Sisson said. “We are running a little blind on where we are at from a racing perspective. You have to get into the storm and see how you respond to the storm. I am confident they will do well but I am interested to see how it turns out.”

Sisson said that Pre-Nationals differs from the season’s previous meets in the mental challenges it presents. Although the team has not used strategy so far in the season, for Pre-Nationals each athlete will have their own individual race plan.

Sisson believes that the most significant tests of this weekend are going to be mental challenges.

“Are you ready to go through fire. Are you ready to fight? Are you ready for this to be difficult and to respond to it?” Sisson asked his team.

Despite the difficulties ahead, Sisson feels his team has the potential to be massively successful.

“This is the best cross-country team I have ever coached,” Sisson said. “I believe these girls are primed and ready to exploit that and show the country that they are a good team and they deserve to be on the conversation about a team that can make it to the national championship.”