|WIU's Garret Covington|
November 06, 2013
November 05, 2013
My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.
Thursday, October 31st
My roommates and I woke up at 5:30 a.m. in order to eat some breakfast to prepare for the long trip to Fort Wayne, Ind. The trip there would consist of driving to Omaha, Neb., to catch a one-hour flight that would take us to Chicago, Ill., and then travel the rest of the way in two 15-passenger vans. We got to the HPER at 6:00 a.m. to load and board Frank the Tank (a single-axle people mover that has just enough room for the 22 runners and coaches plus our bags) for our trip down to Omaha. As we began our three and a half-hour drive to Omaha, I put my headphones on and listened to some music to drown out the sound of what seemed like a wind tunnel as Frank the Tank cruised south on I-29. I fell asleep without too much trouble because we had gotten up so early and it would be dark out for another hour and a half.
We arrived at the Omaha airport around 10 a.m. while making one stop along the way for a bathroom break and fuel for the bus. We were flying Southwest Airlines and the flight was scheduled for departure at 11:15 a.m. so we had to check in and get through security without too much delay. Once everyone was through security, we found our gate and sat down to wait until the boarding process started. I was getting hungry so I grabbed a personal pan pizza from one of the shops. Soon enough, it was time to board. Our team took up the rear of the plane. Once in the air, the flight attendants served everyone a beverage and some roasted peanuts. As we came into Chicago to land, there was some turbulence, which made it a little rough. After getting off the plane, we made our way to the baggage claim to collect our luggage. Waiting for us at the airport were two 15-passenger vans, which we would be taking the rest of the way to Fort Wayne.
We left the Chicago airport to go get our run in for the day. I only had to go 5 miles because I front-loaded my mileage for the week. We started our run at Soldier Field and ran along the Lakefront trail, which followed Lake Michigan. It was a rainy day so the run left us nothing short of soaked. Nevertheless, we still had fun on the run trying to chase the friendly geese that would come up close to the path. It was a nice area to run and I would like to do it again when the weather is a little more cooperative.
After we changed out of our soaked running clothes, we got back on the road to Fort Wayne. Getting out of Chicago took a little while because it was around 5:00 p.m., which meant rush hour. Also, we had to stop at a few tollbooths on the way out. Trying to fall asleep in the van was not working out for me, as it was near impossible to get into a comfortable enough position to sleep in with the amount of room that was available. After driving for a while, we stopped in Valparaiso, Ind., to get supper. A few of us went to Qdoba, while others went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. After eating, we still had about 100 miles to go plus a time zone change where we would lose an hour. Once we arrived at the hotel and got our room assignments, I unpacked some things, checked my email and a few things that were posted online regarding my classes. Finally, after a long day of traveling, I went to bed a little before 11:00 p.m.
Friday, November 1st
Drew [Kraft] and I woke up at 8 a.m. and went down to eat some breakfast. A few of the guys were also down there. My meal consisted of orange juice, milk, french toast, fruit, yogurt, and a donut, which was all very delicious. After eating, I went back to the room and watched some TV until it was time to go and run the course for our pre-meet.
We got back to the hotel around 3 p.m. I had to do some ironing work on my dress clothes so they would be ready for the banquet later that night, because I had to pack them in my bag instead of having them on a hanger for the trip, they were slightly wrinkled. After finishing with that, I worked on some homework and looked at other conference results that had already taken place throughout the nation until it was time to get ready for the banquet. We left for the banquet at 5:30 p.m. and ended up being the first ones there. It didn’t take long to find out that it wasn’t supposed to start until 6:30 p.m., which made us really early. We then proceeded to take about a thousand pictures since we had a lot of free time. When the other teams showed up, the banquet started and the speakers kept their speeches short and to the point, which was a little surprising, but it meant that we were able to eat sooner. The food was very delicious, as they had prepared a few different main courses along with cheesecake and carrot cake for desert. After the banquet, we headed back to the hotel for team meetings before heading to bed. Our coach gave us a pretty good rundown of what we had to do tomorrow and how we should approach it. He left us with a lot to think about as we headed to bed.
Drew and I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to go and do a two-mile shakeout run with Trent [Lusignan]. After the short run, we went and ate a light breakfast. The men’s team was going to leave for the course at 9:30 a.m. so we had a couple of free hours. I used them to shower and get my bag packed, as we were not coming back to the hotel after the race because we were going to be rushed for time to make our flight out of Chicago back to Omaha. We dressed and prepared for the worst conditions during race time. There was a 40 percent chance of rain during race time with 10 mph winds and temperatures in the low 40s. Since the course was going to be muddy and wet, we planned on wrapping our spikes with tape to keep them from coming untied and possibly getting stepped on and coming off during the race. When we arrived at the course, I went to look at the areas where we would be running to see what they were like. Since yesterday when we did our pre-meet, the course seemed to have dried off quite a bit and the areas with water disappeared a little. We started our warm-up a little after 10 a.m. I tried to keep myself from getting nervous or worried about the race. Before I knew it, it was time to spike up and head over to the starting line for our last stride outs, final words from our coach, and our team huddle. At this point, I was getting excited and anxious to get going. Once the gun went off and we were on our way I was purely focused on the race and giving it my best effort. I finished the race with a respectable time in my mind but was more concerned on how our team did. Talking with coach and our graduate assistant, it was going to be close with USD if we were going to defend our 2012 title. We were trying to add the points up in our head but it was too close to call without seeing the results on paper. Just as we were about to leave for our cool down, the results came over and we edged out USD by just one point (41-42). Everyone was instantly relieved and happy. Then we went to start our cool down and cheer on the girl’s team. They ran really well and ended up placing second behind NDSU.
After the awards, we had to load up the vans and head out if we were going to make out flight out of Chicago on time. Both teams left the course with a lot of accolades. On the men’s side, Trent Lusignan captured the Individual Championship, was named to the All-League First Team, and was the Championship MVP of the race. Brendan Sage was named the Newcomer of the Championship and to the All-League Second Team. Two Jackrabbits were named to the All-League First Team and three were named to All-League Second Team and coach Rod DeHaven was awarded Coach of the Year. The women’s team placed second to NDSU with Cheyanne Bowers taking second place in the meet. Just like the men, they also had two runners make the All-League First Team and three make the All-League Second Team.
The ride to the Chicago airport was pretty quiet as everyone was exhausted from the meet. We ended up making it to our gate with time to spare before our plane was scheduled for departure. The plane ride to Omaha was short and relaxing because there were not very many people on our flight. After getting our luggage it was time to board Frank the Tank again for our final stretch of driving back to Brookings, S.D. We made a quick stop for supper in Missouri Valley, Iowa, and got back to Brookings around 11 p.m. Due to daylight savings time ending, we would get an extra hour of sleep tonight, which was much needed after the long weekend.
I enjoyed my championship experience to the fullest extent and am very glad I was able to share it with my teammates. I will forever remember all of the memories and events that took place over the weekend. Now that The Summit League Championships is in the books, it is time to start thinking about what our teams can do at the Midwest Regional.
Thanks for reading,
November 04, 2013
My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.
North Dakota State senior Maddie McClellan writes about her experience at the 2013 Summit League Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships:
First of all, I want to thank The Summit League, my coach, Ryun Godfrey, and especially my team for making this weekend so memorable. Cross country wouldn’t be the same without my teammates, and I’m sad to see my cross country career coming to an end. I have such a passion for this sport, and I’m going to miss all the hills and valleys that come along with it. I’m sure all cross country runners can relate to my love/hate relationship with distance running. I love what running has taught me. I love the hard work, the team bonding, the guts it takes to keep running when all you want to do is stop. But when you’re racing, you have to constantly battle negative thoughts, constantly tell yourself that you can work harder than you ever thought you could if you would only just hang on, keep pushing. As weird as it sounds, I’m going to miss the mental struggle that comes along with cross country racing, because those struggles teach you so much about the person you are and the person you can be.
I arrived at the Bison Sports Arena in my sweats, lugging a yellow duffel full of gear and my backpack full of homework. I was the first one there, which is a pretty rare occurrence. [Coach] Ryun [Godfrey] showed up around six, and joked that I’ve never been that early in my life. Once everyone showed up, sleepy-eyed but ready to go, we headed to the airport.
Once we got to our hotel, we quickly changed into our pre-meet gear. Fifteen minutes later, we were back in the van. We heard the course was soggy, but we still wanted to run it. I’m notorious for not remembering the course, so I was determined to commit the directions to memory. It was freezing out! Even though we’re North Dakotans, we still can be babies about the cold. We ran our pre-meet and enjoyed every second of it, even though our feet were cold and soggy. The course was beautiful. Unlike Fargo, there are trees ablaze with gold, red, and yellow. We were more excited than ever about the race. I knew that my team was ready to do great things, and I couldn’t wait to see the results of all our hard work.
Getting ready for the banquet is always fun. It’s not often that we get to see each other in clothes other than running gear and our hair not in pony-tails. Erin [Teschuk] even brushed her hair! We sat down at our table and were tortured by the desserts that were already placed in front of us. I decided that dessert first wasn’t such a bad idea. We all wolfed down our food, not concerned at all with being lady-like. After the dinner, we took pictures with the guys team, who, not surprisingly, were all wearing either bow-ties or suspenders. During pictures, I thought of how much I will miss being on a team like this. These are the people that I love.
[Coach] Ryun got back from his coach’s meeting and shot me a text, “Maddie, 8:50. Room 318.” My heart jumped into my throat. Whenever we travel, we have a team meeting the night before the race. [Coach] Ryun goes over any details we need to know about the following day and shares any words of wisdom he might have. A lot of this wisdom comes from whatever book he’s reading at the time, and I have to say, he is a pretty great motivator. But, conference is different. Every year, the night before conference, seniors take over [Coach] Ryun’s part-time job as motivational speaker. I walked into room 318 and immediately knew that everything I wanted to tell my teammates could not possibly be captured in such a short amount of time. I panicked. Heidi Peterson went first. Of course, she started crying. Everything she said about running and cross country resonated with how I feel. One of the things she shared was, “Running is a part of life; it’s not your whole life. This is such a short time, and it goes by so fast.” Heidi has been an amazing team leader and teammate, and she definitely conveyed that in her speech. I was up next. My heart was pounding and my face was burning. I didn’t organize what I wanted to say, so I just started sharing what running has taught me. Confidence. Perseverance. Determination. Mental toughness. Cross country has undoubtedly helped shape me into the person I am today, and I am forever grateful for the people that encouraged me along the way. I finally shared a quote by George Eliot, “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” In running and in life, I want my teammates to pursue what they love wholeheartedly. If they do this, they can never look back and say they didn’t try.
The speeches were over, thankfully. We left the room and went to bed, ready to compete the next day.
[Coach] Larson, the guys’ coach, drove us to the course. He told us a story about a runner that was taken out by a deer during a race, and we all looked at each other and laughed. [Coach] Lars’ brain is an endless book of stories.
We got to the course and walked to our team camp. We had about 15 minutes before we had to warm up, and we were all anxious to start. Abbi [Aspengren] and Brecca [Wahlund] went to the bathroom about nine times, and then we started jogging towards the woods. I think we all had nerves at this point, but our warm-up went smoothly. We cheered our guys on as we ran through the woods and then headed back to go to the bathroom just three more times and put our spikes on.
Once we were at the line, we did a few strides. [Coach] Ryun walked out to talk to us one last time and told us that he is proud of our hard work and was excited to see what we could do. [Coach] Ryun kept it simple, but what he said meant a lot to us. We yelled, “Bison!” and got together to pray as a team. I thanked God for bringing us to one more conference meet safely and asked that we could run to the best of our abilities, not for ourselves, but for each other. We strided back to the line and waited for the gun to go off.
During the race, Brecca and I ran together. We pushed each other through about half of the race before she left me behind. I tried my best through the rest of the race, and was elated to see Brecca pass SDSU for first place near the end. I started to take a wrong turn near the end, but was corrected and gutted out my last 400 meters with all I had left. I finished in third place and watched my teammates cross the line. We had five girls in the top ten: 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th. I am proud to be a Bison!
That night, we went to a scary movie. This tradition started when I took Heidi to her first scary movie, Paranormal Activity. This time we went to the remake of Carrie. [Coach] Ryun went to his usual three-hour-long historical film. I ordered an Icee the size of my head and Heidi clutched my arm so hard during the movie that I thought I would have finger-sized bruises on my forearm for a week.
I awoke suddenly, startled by a knock at the door. I yelled and bolted out of bed. Brecca was at the door to tell Abbi and I that we were LATE. Of course this would happen! We scrambled around our room, throwing our stuff into our bags and rushed downstairs. I think we had more adrenaline rushing through our bodies than when we were racing! We hopped in the van, and [Coach] Ryun drove us to the airport. We. Are. Exhausted. The flights and layovers go smoothly, and we arrived at noon in Fargo, N.D.: Home of the Bison.
What a whirlwind the weekend had been. I am honored to be part of The Summit League and a member of the Bison cross country team, now the three-time league champions. Conference is over, but I’m already looking ahead; I’m always excited to see what the Bison will do next.
Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Women’s Soccer Championship, Nov. 8/10 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.