High expectations for cross country

Brad Schmidt

Optimism is the word surrounding Sacramento State’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams this year.


At the Big Sky Championship last year, the women finished in fourth place and the men finished sixth.


Kathleen Raske, director of track and field/cross-country, is entering her seventh year with the program and is excited to see how the men’s team comes together.


“I’m pleased with the development of the men’s team,” Raske said. “The men’s team has a lot of key runners that were freshmen last year and the improvement they make will greatly influence this upcoming season.”


Junior Myko Lucas is one of the few upperclassman on the men’s team and said he needs to establish himself as a leader.


“Our team is extremely close and that’s something we use to our advantage,” Lucas said. “Although we are young, I feel I can lead this team to a successful 2010 season.”


Lucas has Raske’s support on the matter.


“Myko has been here the longest and knows that it’s his turn to step up and he’s trying to do so,” Raske said.


Assistant coach Scott Abbott said he is pleased with the upside his youthful men’s team shows.


“We are very young on the men’s side, and obviously that is exciting in terms of projecting forward,” Abbott said. “The question mark, however, is whether some of this potential will rear itself this year, and I believe that it can and will.”


Freshman Reesey Byers from Santa Rosa High School has caught the attention of his coaches and teammates as someone who will make an immediate impact on the men’s team.


“Reesey is a very special athlete with a very determined work ethic,” Abbott said. “We were so excited that he made the decision to come to Sacramento State and we are excited for him to kick of his career as a Hornet.”


The men’s team is eager to show everyone the strides that have been made and cannot wait for the season to start, Lucas said.


“This team is full of guys who have high hopes and are very enthusiastic,” Abbott said. “There is a very “fresh’ feeling to start this year, kind of a clean slate, and it appears that our men don’t really have expectations or limitations right now. They are just excited to get after it and see what kind of team we can be.”


Unlike the men’s team, the women have plenty of leaders for the upcoming season.


“Seniors Renisha Robinson, Erin Lewis and Lea Wallace are all proven leaders,” Raske said.


Last year at the Big Sky Championship the three women finished eighth, 23rd and 28th.


Even with the leaders established on the women’s team, other variables will determine this year’s success.


“We are only going to be successful this season if we can get some significant contributions from some of our younger women.” Abbott said. “The experience and leadership of our veterans will definitely provide a solid framework that should create a comfortable and pressure-free environment for the younger runners to really go for it.”


There is a high level of confidence surrounding both groups as they approach the season’s first race.


“Our main goal is to get better as a team everyday and to put ourselves in a competitive position in every race to give ourselves the opportunity to have a good result,” Abbott said. “We have the opportunity to have one of the best cross country seasons in a long time for this program.”


The season opens with an exhibition meet in Davis on Friday. The following weekend is the Hornet Jamboree and will be a great measure of where both teams stand.


Contact Brad Schmidt at [email protected]