MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University cross country team will be hosting its one and only home event Friday, Oct. 9. The U.P. Championships will take place at the NMU Golf Course at 3 p.m. and will feature runners from NMU, Lake Superior State, Finlandia, Michigan Tech and Gogebic Community College, along with open participants.
The U.P. Championships will be the last home meet for NMU’s six seniors: Ingrid Fjeldheim
(Marquette, Mich.), Megan Hendershot (Battle Creek, Mich.), Bibiane Mahy (Porcupine, Ont.), Danielle Stein (Kalkaska, Mich.), Erin VanEnkevort (Bark River, Mich.), and Jennifer Wiedmeyer (Waukesha, Wis.). “The fact that it is my last home race will motivate me to make it my best race,” said Wiedmeyer.
When asked what it means to the area to host this meet,
head coach Jenny Ryan said, “It is very important for NMU
to host a home meet. It gives the athletes a chance to stay
at home, sleep in their own beds and compete in their own area.”
Ryan explained that having a home meet is also a great opportunity
for the Marquette community and university population to get out
and support the Wildcat runners. The meet also benefits Marquette,
as many parents, family members and friends travel to the area for
the meet and then stay for the weekend.
Having a meet close to home is an advantage for the team, as they have had a chance to run the course and get used to the terrain. The race course was set up a few weeks ago by Ryan and assistant coach Sten Fjeldheim. Ryan explained, “Once you run a course, you get to know how it runs, where the harder parts are, the easier parts, etc. It helps you plan your race and how you will run it.” The experience on the course, paired with a larger home crowd should create a great atmosphere for the NMU team. Wiedmeyer added, “It's a big motivator to run a race on my home course. It gives me a sense of pride. I think it creates a greater energy throughout the whole team.”
Although the weather has not been ideal for running, Ryan is confident that her team will succeed. “We train in all kinds of weather, so they are used to it. The one thing that is important that I do is to make sure they do their warm up right before the race and time it right so they are well warmed up as close to the race as possible. I also remind them to dress correctly; they have uniforms for cold weather as well as warm weather.”
While some people may not think of cross country as a spectator sport, it is actually very exciting to watch. Ryan kept spectators in mind when designing the course. “I designed the course to be two loops of 2.5km where you can actually see a good portion of the race by standing in one place. If you walk just a little up one hill you will be able to see even more. The bigger the crowd, the better for the athletes,” said Ryan. “Hearing people cheer and running through a corridor of people is very exciting for the athletes. This is their performance and it is good for them to show it off.”
Whether you are a fan of running, or just a fan of the Wildcats, join the cross country team this Friday and cheer on the ‘Cats!
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Story by Stacie Morell
Sports Information Director