If you are an avid runner or a fan of popular sports literature, you may have come across the book “Running with the Buffaloes.”
The author, Chris Lear, spent a season with the 1998 Colorado Buffaloes on their road to the NCAA Cross-Country Championship.
With 48 hours to go until their first meet of the season, I was fortunate to join three of Marquette’s cross country runners during their workout Wednesday afternoon as they head into a season with their own NCAA Championship dreams of competing on the big stage.
The team is split into three workout groups depending on each athlete’s respective class schedule. In Wednesday’s noon group, I joined senior Connor Callahan and juniors Spencer Agnew and Mitch Lacy for their run down to the lakefront.
Wednesdays are typically reserved for tempo runs or similar workouts. As the team starts to compete every other week in the latter portion of the season, things may change.
Some of the more experienced runners will tend to do their workouts and find another opportunity to run during the day.
Coach Mike Nelson outlined Wednesday’s workout as the following: a two-mile warmup run to the lakefront from Marquette Gym, followed by leg swings, drills and strides.
The workout is six to seven miles with the first mile coming across at six minutes. Each mile that follows will be about five seconds faster.
“This is not a killer workout, but it is something good to keep the legs moving,” Nelson said. “Usually, they are able to recover from this workout after 24 hours, so they should be fine come race day.”
After meeting the runners at the lakefront, they did their drills and were ready to take off. The first half-mile came across at 2:55, which was just a little faster than expected.
Agnew was hanging in there with his teammates the entire way. He broke his foot during the outdoor season and had to take ten weeks off before rehabbing and then working out.
He expects to race the entire course and compete at the NIU Huskie Invitational on Friday.
Lacy could contend for one of the team’s top spots, and heading into Friday, he feels his confidence is high due to his training in the summer.
“Being in Milwaukee over the summer prepared me pretty well to race at a high level,” Lacy said. “We’ve got a good group of guys planning on going out together and doing some work.”
After Agnew drew back from the workout around the third mile and Nelson wrapped up his singing of George Strait, Callahan and Lacy freed their minds of any talk about the upcoming meet and opened up about the characters on the team.
Drawing on some comparisons to Texas runner Kyle Merber from the film “The Real Maine,” the senior and junior went on to give themselves the title of “most yoked” or well-built on the squad.
The upperclassmen do their best to make an easy transition for the freshmen from high school to college.
The team’s chemistry between the age groups appears to be at a high level as Callahan and Lacy voiced their love of freshman Andres Tineo-Paz’s Venezuelan accent.
Although freshman Cody Haberkorn is quiet now, the juniors and seniors enjoy his company and believe they will have him talking in no time.
Whether it is seeing people in costumes running along the lakefront or listening to Jack Senefeld’s yelling on a run, the team knows how to make running fun. But come race day, it is all business.
Callahan could be Marquette’s top runner on Friday with Senefeld and fellow senior Patrick Maag injured, but that does not add too much pressure as he looks to capture an individual victory for the team.
“Luckily, I’ve been in high pressure situations before,” Callahan said. “I’ll just do whatever I can to lead the team without them so that they won’t be missed too much. Hopefully, when they’re back, we’ll be even better.”