Women's Cross Country uses solid coaching, depth to propel team to NCAA Championships
Nov. 21, 2010
Mary Kusek, Texas Media Relations
Heading into his fifth year as head Women's Cross Country coach, Steve Sisson had a vision of the great potential held by his 2010 squad.
"This year, I'd really like for our results to do the talking," Sisson said back in September. "I think we'll come on strong at the end of the season. I think that our conference and region performances should turn some heads, and I believe that we have a legitimate chance at being a team to go to the NCAA Championships."
As the Longhorns prepare for their first team appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships since 2003, Sisson's predictions ring true. Following an impressive fifth-place team finish at the ISU Pre-National Invitational, Texas improved upon its performance in the conference at the 2010 Big 12 Championships and won the NCAA South Central Regional, securing an automatic qualification for the national meet.
With three freshmen running in the top seven for Texas, the achievement of the relatively young team is something the Longhorns have enjoyed using to their advantage.
"I think it is really intimidating for other teams to know that our team is so young," junior Mia Behm says. "I think it sends a message that our coach knows what he is doing because he is preparing our freshmen really well."
For Texas, however, the success of the freshmen certainly does not tell the whole story. This season, the Longhorns have relied on depth that the program has not possessed in recent years. To truly succeed, each member of the team had to improve meet to meet.
The mindset of a total team effort is something the Longhorns have carried with them throughout their 2010 campaign.
"Our team is very united," Behm says. "We don't have a team captain, which I think is good because it gives us unity in that we all just work together and nobody has to report to someone or listen to someone in particular."
Top to bottom, the Texas Women's Cross Country team has proven to be solid. From the beginning, Sisson believed that Behm and freshman Marielle Hall would be a "one-two punch that very few people in the South Central Region can touch."
But the Longhorns took Sisson's words a step farther. At the regional meet, all five scorers combined for a punch that few could touch - they all placed among the top 25 and earned All-Region honors, with four finishing in the top nine.
"It was so crazy to have four people in the top nine of our region," Behm says. "That obviously put us on `cloud nine,' and going into Nationals, we are so ready to show everybody that Texas can be good at distance."