Women's cross country team has hope in new faces.
By HAYLEY LEWIS, GoThunderWolves.com
PUEBLO, Colo. (GoThunderwolves.com — Sept. 7, 2012) With a group of new young athletes and a returning assistant coach who specializes in distance runners, the Colorado State University-Pueblo women's cross country team has the potential to reach their goals of establishing respectability in the toughest cross country conference in the nation, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
However, after heavy recruiting, seven new athletes will be joining the Pack. Freshmen Holli Barton, Jennifer Pfiester and Amanda Torres have previous experience in long distance competition. However, freshmen Sydni Riley, Abigail Thiel and Chelsea Wilkes have no high school experience, and will be participating in their first ever cross country seasons.
The new roster also includes sophomore Valerie Stark, who is transferring from Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo. Stark will be red shirting this season, but is expected to boost morale, help motivate teammates in training and prepare for next year's competitions.
Although having a clean slate of athletes has challenges, Head Coach Chad Perry is embracing the concept of a young team.
"I'm excited about it," Perry said. "I think having a young team brings life. I would like to have more leadership, but Christina's been here and she has been through the ups and downs of four years. She knows her role, and training-wise, she can give some advice to the new ladies."
Another leader that Perry emphasizes as an important factor of the team is Assistant Coach Jason Zichterman. Zichterman will be returning for his second season at CSU-Pueblo and has high hopes for the new team in terms of potential.
"I'm really happy with how the early season training has gone," said Zichterman. "The sea-level girls have adjusted well, and I think we're right on schedule as we head into our first races."
The consistency in leadership also allows for a consistency in training methods. Perry and Zichterman have agreed to focus on hill training for the lady Thunderwolves in preparation for difficult courses.
"This year we're focusing on building strength and toughness by getting the majority of our race pace work done on hilly courses," Zichterman said. "Since it's cross country, we're making sure to stay off the track and avoid flat land as much as possible. My hope is that by challenging ourselves week in and week out in practice, we'll be ready to roll in races, even on difficult courses."
With the return of Zichterman and the stability in athlete participation, Perry hopes to fulfill the goals of the team; keeping the ladies healthy, keep the team training together and finish top 9 in this year's Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships on October 20 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The women's cross country team will be competing in their season opener on Saturday, September 8, 2012 at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Rust Buster at Monument Valley Park, Colorado Springs.