WAYNE – As cross country student-athletes at Wayne State College have had trouble getting onto a track or in the gym to lift, they have been able to take to the roads and get their distance running in over the summer.
The 2020 WSC women’s and men’s cross country season also saw a delay in start with their first permissible practice following football and women’s golf on Wednesday, September 2.
Head coach Marlon Brink is entering his 21st season leading the Wildcat women’s and men’s cross country teams. Coach Brink said for the past decade WSC competed in the Augustana Twilight Meet in the fall but it was canceled this past June.
“So, we found a replacement meet,” said Brink. “We were going to Dordt University there and run a meet at their place and then the Dakota State meet that got flooded out last year, they were going to host again this year. Those were the two meets we lost on our schedule.”
Coach Brink wasn’t completely shocked about Wednesday’s announcement of the fall sports championships being canceled as they understand what’s going on. News changes day-to-day and week-to-week as he added there’ll be no national championship or regional championship meet.
“Which has always been kind of one of the things we’ve shot for as a team was to run well at regionals and maybe try to get a national qualifier there,” Brink added. “So, that’s changed that goal a little bit, but we knew it was certainly a possibility. So, now we are just re-focusing our goals.”
The first date of competition was scheduled to begin on September 26, depending on the decision from the NSIC. WSC is hoping to host the Wayne State Wildcat Classic, but now a day later on Saturday, September 26 from the Wayne Country Club.
Cross country student-athletes are planning to return to campus on Monday, August 10 to record testing with athletic training staff as the week of August 10 – 14 is still considered voluntary training. Then, for about two and a half weeks the cross country runners would be limited to eight hours a week of practice before going up to 20 hours per week once the first permissible practice is allowed.
Coach Brink mentioned most of the student-athletes were home but have been receiving workouts from the coaching staff since March.
“So, you know they’ve had a long time since they’ve been away from campus,” Brink mentioned. “Probably the longest they’ve ever had in terms of not having truly structured practices with teammates and coaching staff available there.”
The only other regular season meet that is scheduled on the WSC cross country season could be the Trent Smith Invite hosted by North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa on Friday, October 9. The NSIC Cross Country Championships were planned to be hosted at the Wayne Country Club and following the announcement earlier this week, the NCAA Central Region Championships were scheduled for Saturday, November 7 in St. Paul, Minnesota but has since also been canceled.
Coach Brink said talking with a lot of the coaches from the NSIC, they feel like the Wayne Country Club offers a challenging course.
“It’s a true cross country course,” said Brink. “It’s not just a pancake-flat course like some of the ones we’ve been on the last couple years at Northern, Moorhead and Augustana; they’ve got really flat courses. So, I think from that standpoint coaches feel like it’s a true cross country type course.”
Also following Wednesday’s announcement, programs are allowed to play up to 50% of their maximum meets that was scheduled before which was six for cross country. Coach Brink added the three meets they had on their schedule were the main ones they would want to participate in.
“Now those will probably be the only meets on our schedule,” Brink added. “So that way we don’t lose a season of eligibility for any of the student-athletes because once you go over 50% then it that uses a season of eligibility for them.”
Both the WSC cross country teams collected U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team Awards last fall.
The Wildcat men posted the top grade point average in NCAA Division II at 3.82. It marked the ninth consecutive year that WSC earned the coaches’ association All-Academic honor. Wayne State was one of 11 teams from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference to collect the All-Academic Award.
To qualify for the honor, an institution must have at least a 3.00 team cumulative grade point average and scored at an NCAA Division II regional competition during the season.
For the Wildcat women, it was the seventh time in the last eight years they earned All-Academic honors recording a cumulative grade point average of 3.75 to finish eighth nationally out of 148 teams that posted 3.00 team grade point averages. WSC was one of 13 teams from the NSIC to earn the award.