Jacqui White, Assistant Sports Editor
Winning Empire 8 Conference Championships is becoming all too familiar for the Utica College women’s cross country team.
After winning the Empire 8’s cross country championship last year, the team won their second consecutive title on Oct. 27 after scoring 58 points and having four runners finish in the top 20. On Nov. 10, the women’s team will move on to this weekend’s NCAA Atlantic Regional in Glasboro, New Jersey.
Senior runner Renee Lewis explained that after winning the championship last year, the team wanted to keep working hard to try to and do it all over again.
“The championship was a tough race, but it was worth it,” Lewis explained.
Lewis said that during the preseason the team was definitely “more focused,” which helped them get a better chance at winning again.
“The workouts were different this year,” she said. “They were a little harder, we ran more to get better timing on our mileage.”
Lewis said what helped was the different types of surfaces the team ran on.
“We did some grass running,” Lewis said. “We also had more practices than last year to help us keep the momentum.”
Lewis came in sixth out of 81 runners in the championship meet and was the second toplace on her team. Lewis finished the race in 26 minutes and 23 seconds.
Junior Sarina Cannavo explained how head coach Eric Parker helped keep the team in shape for the 2018 season.
“He had a plan,” Cannavo said. “He knows that everyone’s body adapts differently to running, so, when we have a practice, he changes it per person to make everyone get the most out of the practice.
“Parker is also a consistent coach. He notices if I’m hurting or someone else is hurting during practice. He’ll tell us to either slow it down or go to the trainer to see if there’s something we need to do for the pain we’re having.”
Cannavo explained that the team approached things differently this season with more focus on recovery after runs.
“For the upcoming Atlantic Regional, we’ve changed a little bit of how we’re practicing,” Cannavo said. “Instead of having two hard practices and going as hard as we usually do, we’re only having one hard practice. Parker is really emphasizing recovery for the upcoming run.”
Coach Parker explained that he thinks that another championship for UC can be won if his runners get good training in over the summer.
“They came in with a good foundation, and for the most part, they were in shape to start running right away during the preseason,” Parker said.
Parker also explained that since the team came into the season in better shape than they might have been in past seasons they were able to improve faster.
“During the practices we had during the season, I wanted to sharpen the tools that the runners already had,” Parker said. “That included helping them prepare mentally for the races and fine-tuning everything.”