With a new coach, a new outlook and many new faces, Knox’s cross-country team is confident about this weekend’s Midwest Conference championship hosted by Monmouth College.
“Looking at the successes of the season, I am very confident this team will do well,” said senior and men’s team captain Chris Bugajski.
Though both the men’s and women’s teams have been hurt by injuries throughout the season, first-year head coach Dan Zierfuss has tried to keep the team rested and healthy. On the women’s team, sophomores Emelye Weimer and Zoey Kudla have been battling injuries all season.
“We’ve been more focused on shorter and faster instead of putting on lots of mileage,” said senior Chloe Bohm.
Bohm, too, has been hampered by injuries this season. But having run only one race in the month leading up to conference – the Illinois College Invitational on October 16 – the Prairie Fire are hoping for fresh legs this weekend.
“I think it will be exciting to see how everyone can improve after a weekend off,” said Bohm, who finished in 26th place at the Illinois College race.
On the men’s team, freshman Gabe Moreno missed a few races with a hip injury, but appears rested after a 16th place finish last weekend. Senior and men’s captain Ryan Maniscalco has led the team all season, and ran a 26:33 at IC, good for 12th place.
Both Bohm and Bugajski are certain the Prairie Fire will perform at a high level.
“I foresee us finishing higher than we have in the past four years,” said Bugajski, “not to mention being a solid competitor for years to come.”
“I think the whole team and the coaches are ready to see what kind of improvements we’ve made this season,” said Bohm.
“We will be racing at our greatest potential because of the dedicated training and persistent positive attitude that has carried us this far into the season,” Bugajski said.
The Midwest Conference championship will take place this Saturday at Gibson Woods Golf Course in Monmouth, Ill. The men’s race will begin at 11 a.m. and the women’s at 12 p.m. Last season, the women’s team finished tenth and the men eighth.