Although the Horned Frogs still plan to compete in this weekend’s Mountain West Conference Championships, their travel plans have been altered.The meet was moved to Albuquerque, N.M., from Mission Bay Park, Calif., in the San Diego area, because of wildfires in the area.
Head coach Shawn Winget said the team is concerned about the situation, but it has not affected their preparation.
“They’re worried about people in California but they are human concerns,” Winget said. “There are more important things than cross country and track when you’re dealing with lives and homes, but as far as running, it hasn’t really affected them.”
Sophomore Festus Kigen said he is better this season and hopes to build on his 13th place finish in last year’s MWC Championships.
The key to success, he said, is training.
“We try to train hard,” Kigen said, “so when it comes to competing, we are relaxed.”
Freshman Tanja Ivandic said she did not even think she would make the team at the start of the season. With all the injuries the runners have suffered, Ivandic leads the Horned Frogs into the conference championships after pacing the women’s team at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.
“These girls are really good, but they’ve had a lot of injuries,” Ivandic said. “It’s a nice feeling just knowing that I can keep up with them.”
Winget said his team has taken a hit from injuries. Of his top seven women runners in last year’s conference meet, he has one runner left – sophomore Dani Selner.
“We’re down toward the bottom of the depth chart right now,” Winget said. “We’re running (our) No. 11 as No. 7. We’ve had a lot of injuries.”
Still, Winget said, his freshman runners have shown improvement.
“Every week, they just get better and better,” Winget said. “Everything they do this year we hope to carry through indoor and outdoor and through the summer, but next year, they come in as sophomores knowing what to expect and ready to be big contributors.