Written by: Marquez Slaughter
The men’s VSU cross-country team is ready for its fresh start this season at the Fleet Feet Sports/Earl Jacoby Invitational Saturday in New Market, Alabama.
This season, the team consists of eight freshman, two sophomores, a junior, a senior and a graduate student.
Sophomore and second year team member Joshua Hall was a redshirt last year and is now able to join his teammates in this season’s races.
“[The freshmen] came in prepared,” Hall said. “They took the summer training pretty seriously and that did them well because it showed on the first workout from day one; they were doing mile repeats in under five minutes and ten seconds per intervals, so they are out there doing what they are supposed to.”
Graduate student Casey Claborn has only run for VSU for two years, but he earned the first team All-Gulf South Conference last year.
Senior runner Jesse Prince was VSU’s top runner in five of six races last year, finished in the top five in four races and also earned first team All-GSC last year.
Junior runner Nate Wondimu was VSU’s top finisher at the NCAA South Region meet and earned second team All-GSC last year.
Hall, Claborn, Prince and Wondimu are all viewed by the freshmen as the team leaders.
Freshman Reece Hickok said that the upperclassmen make running for VSU’s cross-country team comfortable because the upperclassmen push them and make them better runners.
Hickok’s personal best times in high school were 16:47.94 in the 5K cross-country and 2:04 in the 800-meter.
“I’m kind of nervous about it but excited about it too,” Hickok said. “There are always a lot of emotions going in the first meet.”
With the fresh legs of a big freshman class Hall is eager for the future of VSU cross-country.
“Hopefully we should be set for years to come,” Hall said. “Our first race is on Saturday, so we’ll find out whether or not the training has translated over to the races.”
The men’s VSU cross-country team estimated that they will be up against 80 to 90 other guys from different schools.
The first race will take place at Sharon Johnston Park and is hosted by the University of Alabama at Huntsville.