By Delainey Kein, Staff Writer
The University of Maine Farmington (UMF) Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Teams are dominating in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC), going into the championship race seeded first and second in the standings, respectively.
In his second year as Head Coach Joe Staples is more than excited about the success of both teams thus far. “It’s kind of like a dream,” said Staples. “I just have a really good group of athletes.” Undeniably, the cross country athletes have been fierce competitors this season, landing them at the top of their sport.
Last week, Robert Hollis led the men’s team with an 8k time of 28:31. On the women’s side, Katie Flanders, a junior elementary education major, has consistently led her team, and even snatched the NAC runner of the week award back in September. “I’ve been working hard in practice and stuff, and I did a lot over the summer,” Flanders mentioned proudly. “It felt good to go faster than before.” She has since improved her time even more, recently clocking in with a 5k time of 20:47.
Members of both teams have been training hard and their dedication has shown itself in the races they have won. Cross country requires runners to put in a huge amount of time and effort. At the peak of the season, “the men were running 65 miles a week, and the women were running in the mid 40s,” said Staples. “They all want to work hard and are passionate about the sport.”
Junior and elementary education major, Josh Wynne, has been competitively running for 12 years. He does an incredible amount of running he does each week and is a very committed member of the team. “We [the team] always push each other during workouts and do our long runs together,” said Wynne. “I always try to push myself both mentally and physically.” In the last meet, Wynne’s hard-working attitude brought him across the finish line third for UMF with a time of 29:34.
These runners work hard not only on the track, but also in the classroom. Last year, the Women’s Cross Country team tallied the highest grade point average (GPA) at UMF, beating out 13 other teams for the honor. “The academic piece comes first, that’s what division three is all about,” said Staples. “At the same time, I never have to speak to them. They kind of just do it on their own.”
Coach Staples obviously feels a great level of appreciation for his athletes, and the feeling is mutual. Wynne said, “I love having Coach Staples as our head coach. [He] always runs with us, making the athlete and coach relationship stronger.” In the spring UMF will host a banquet as a way of celebrating the success of all of the teams on campus.
UMF will run the NAC championship race at Castleton on Saturday, November 1. For results, or to learn more about the UMF Men’s or Women’s Cross Country Teams, go to http:// athletics.umf.maine.edu/landing/index.