Runners head to conference meet after 29th place finish

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    The Frogs continued pounding miles on the pavement this week as their cross country season nears closing.The women’s team finished its prenationals race this past weekend in Terra Haute, Ind., where they finished 29th out of 36 teams. The men’s team took the weekend off and continued preparation for the Mountain West Conference Meet, Oct. 28.

    The results from the women’s 6K race showed some of the inexperience of the younger runners on the squad, said Eric Heins, head coach.

    “We weren’t mentally ready for a race of that size,” Heins said.

    Three freshmen were in the group that traveled to the meet, and this was their first collegiate race with more than 240 runners.

    “It is a different mindset,” Heins said, “They are used to sometimes leading their pack, and it is harder to do that when you are mixed in with hundreds of competitors.”

    Leading the team was senior Calandra Stewart who made a bid for a top 10 finish.

    “In the last part of the race, I had a bad kick, but I set my new personal record by almost 30 seconds,” Stewart said.

    Stewart finished in 14th place overall with a time of 20 minutes 36 seconds.

    Freshman Carlene Mayfield helped pace the remainder of the TCU runners and finished 113th.

    “It was a very new experience, the biggest thing was not being able to see Calandra,” Mayfield said.

    The strategy was to keep Calandra in her sights, but in a field of that many runners, visual contact with Stewart was nearly impossible, Mayfield said.

    The conference meet in two weeks is the next event both teams are training for.

    “We’ve come a long way since last season,” senior J.T. Reinert said. “Everyone is healthy and has been able to maintain the high mileage at practice without any problems.”

    The men’s team was running 70 to 80 miles a week, Reinert said, but the total mileage has decreased as the final races draw near.

    “We are resting up before conference and reducing our weekly mileage by about 10 percent,” Heins said.

    Last season, the men finished the conference last, and the women finished eighth out of nine teams.

    “There needs to be better preparation with team race strategies,” Heins said. “I want both teams to walk away knowing they had a great race.”

    Stewart’s placement in the prenationals is helping pave the way for a chance for her to become TCU’s first Women’s All-American cross country runner.

    “I want to finish in the top three in conference, win regionals and hopefully become an All-American at nationals,” Stewart said.

    All-American honors are given to the top 15 finishers in the nationals race, according to the NCAA Cross-Country handbook.