The Knox Cross Country teams have started their seasons strong, with a second and third place finish at Beloit College and a 10th and 11th place finish at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Senior Rebecca Katz has stepped up this season, finishing first for Knox at the UW-Whitewater invite with a time of 26:06, placing her 12th overall. Katz was named MWC Performer of the Week after this finish.
Junior Meaghan Dorsey attributes their success to having an assistant coach this season and to Katz’s huge step forward.
“[Katz has] definitely [brought] our team up. And we have an assistant coach, which we’ve never had before. That took a whole load off of our head coach so now the atmosphere is so much calmer,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey also mentioned that the team morale has been particularly strong this season.
“Everyone gets along this year, there’s been absolutely no negativity on the team at all. It’s definitely a lot more positive than it was last year,” Dorsey said.
On the other side, the men have also been excelling in their season. At the UW-Whitewater invite, freshman Arthur Santoro placed 20th overall for the men with a time of 28:56.
Junior John Rico thinks the success is due to the group aspect of the team.
“There’s a lot more individuals this year that have the mentality of ‘let’s go to practice, let’s get this work in.’ The past few years I’ve been here I feel like that mentality hasn’t been like it is now. I feel like a lot more people on the men’s and women’s side are willing to put in the work and get the times that they want,” Rico said.
Senior Ben Hosto thinks their success has to be because of “the better training program we’ve had in comparison to past years, and our team as a whole has really come in strong and ready to go.”
Rico expanded on the idea of this new training program. Coach Alex Moreno has implemented a program based on the different summer workouts each runner went through. Depending on how strenuous the summer workout was, the runners were split into different phases. The runners can then move up phases as they run more distance and the runners in various phases really help push each other to be better.
Rico and Hosto also highlighted the closeness of their teammates.
“We do group activities whenever we don’t have a race. We all get together and support our teammates in whatever they’re involved in outside of the team. I feel like that makes us closer,” Rico said.
Both teams agree that their freshmen are excellent.
“[The freshmen have] stepped up a lot. We have a really solid group of freshmen. They’re the main reason why the whole mentality in the group is very positive, especially on the women’s side,” Rico said.
The teams will compete at Bradley University on Oct. 13, their final competition before the Midwest Conference meet.
Both teams hope to get their paces faster so they can be as competitive as possible for the MWC meet.
The main goal for both teams is to improve upon their finishes from a year ago.
The Prairie Fire was ranked eighth last year and will look for a higher placement at the Midwest Conference Championships on Oct. 27 and 28.