WSC Cross Country, Track & Field Student-Athletes Keeping Focused During Off-Season Training

WAYNE – As practice sessions and workouts come to a close for the Wayne State College women’s and men’s cross country team, the indoor track & field athletes are hoping to get a chance to compete during their winter season.

Marlon Brink entered his 21st season leading the cross country and track & field teams.

Per NCAA rules, the ‘Cats have been able to practice for eight hours per week through mid-November. Between running and lifting along with a few time trials, the cross country runners workout for about four days a week, according to Brink.

“So, usually we’d get two speed sessions in a week, a couple long runs in a week and the kids are doing some additional training on their own,” said Brink. “We did some time trials. We did a 5k time trial early in the fall, then we did a two-mile time trial and just a week ago we did a mile time trial on the outdoor track here.”

Among a season which was canceled, WSC was scheduled to host the Northern Sun Conference Cross Country Championships on October 25. This would have marked the second straight year and fifth overall time hosting the event (2004, 2010, 2014 and 2019) but was called off due to COVID-19.

With fall sport athletes earning another year of eligibility, some upperclassmen on both the women’s and men’s team are seeing if they can extend their major out another year. Coach Brink added these are difficult decisions.

“I understand both sides of it,” Brink added. “From an athletic standpoint they want to continue their careers but at the same time from a professional standpoint starting their careers. And from a financial standing point, the cost of attending school is something you have to factor in as well.”

The WSC cross country coaching staff asks their student-athletes to be masked up before and after practice and to socially distance as much as possible. If the team would travel to meets, the team will have to spread out and have individual meals for each person while following other guidelines from the campus and conference.

Coach Brink was able to attend about 10 different high school cross country meets including four different districts on the same day. Coach Brink mentioned he probably watched more cross country meets than he has ever throughout his coaching career with the Wildcats not traveling.

‘Which is a good thing,” Brink mentioned. “The more you get out to see kids compete it adds some more validity to times. Especially where the high schools didn’t have a track season last year. It made it a little bit difficult to kind of gage based off of track time. For cross country, it was good to see them racing and competing. That always helps as a coach to get an eyeball on somebody rather than just going off a number on a paper.”

Coach Brink also spent about six and a half hours watching the 2020 NSAA State Cross Country Championships. He added there’s a lot of great runners out there and seeing past Wildcat runners now coaching cross country is great.

National Signing Day period begins for most sports on Wednesday, November 11. Coach Brink has a few campus visits lined up as they’ll be waiting on academic scholarships for others before announcing their 2021 signing class. The signing period ends on August 1.

Recruits are able to visit campus as they’re asked to bring no more than two family members. The coaches and recruits wear their masks and maintain social distance regulations.

The WSC indoor track & field team continues to train like the season will start in early 2021 as they’re uncertain in where they would be able to compete. Coach Brink said they look to be as patient as possible as it has been a little frustrating.

“I think for the most part the kids have done a pretty good job of staying focus and staying upbeat about things,” said Brink. “We’re just hopeful that we’re going to get a chance to compete sometime soon. It’s kind of tough sometimes when you can see the high schools out there competing and the college level we’re not able to compete. It makes them anxious to get out there and compete which obviously, all athletes want to be able to do at some point.”

Winter sports are waiting for the NCAA Sports Science Institute to come out with some new guidelines on testings.

Wayne State College joins Minnesota State-Mankato, Northern State, Bemidji State and University of Mary as the only NSIC schools with competition level indoor facilities.