Two races into the season, the Demon and Lady Demon cross-country teams are beginning to hit their stride after a strong showing at the LA Tech Mook Triple-Duals on Sept. 14.
Under the guidance of new head coach De’Shalyn Jones, who holds nine Southland Conference individual titles and was a multiple time NCAA All-American sprinter, the relatively young and inexperienced cross-country teams are relying on their few veteran runners to set the pace for the season.
“Right now, we only have one senior one the team, and the rest are mostly juniors and freshman,” Jones said. “We have a lot of really good freshmen coming in, and they get a chance to learn from experienced runners like Izzy (Hudson).”
Jones expects returning team members to either start off at the same spot as last year or close to it.
“If we have some people set (personal records), that would be lovely, but I really just want to use these first couple meets as a basis and a good standard for the rest of the season,” Jones said.
Dealing with health issues and battling minor injuries, the Northwestern State cross-country teams had a tough season opener against one of the strongest programs in the Southland Conference at the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack Opener on Aug. 30.
Entering the LA Tech Mook Triple-Duals two weeks later, the cross-country teams toed the line with more confidence and experience than they had displayed during the season opener. With a better understanding of race pace and healthier teams, the Lady Demons placed second while the Demons placed fifth.
“In the weeks leading up to LA Tech, we did a lot of race tempo modeling in training,” Jones said. “I just think if we stay focused and believe in ourselves a little bit more then we should be fine.”
The Demons and Lady Demons compete again in Lake Charles on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Lake Charles Toyota Cowboy Stampede.