The IUPUI Jaguars Cross Country team is hosting the Jaguar Invitational on Sept. 15 in Shelbyville, Indiana. The Jags are coming off a strong outing in the Mike Baumer XC classic where they came in 2nd out of 15 schools.
Senior Nate Kaiser and Graduate Student Andrew Whitinger put up the two fastest times at the Mike Baumer classic with times of 14:45.7 and 14:48.6 respectively. IUPUI fell short of first place by two points after Ohio State had 36 to IUPUI’s 38. Some other times to look at were those of Sophomore Will Clark, and Junior Eric Petersen with times of 15:02.9 and 15:03.9.
Kaiser knows that this is a long sport in a long season so preparation is key. Between staying healthy and training intensely there are stepping stools during the season.
“Preparation for an early season meet is much different than later in season when the stakes are high. For this one, our main concern is getting to the line healthy,” Kaiser said, “Getting to the line healthy means doing little things right including going to bed early, eating solid meals, and recovering (ice bath, trainer). Our training is still intense, so this won’t be a meet we feel our best at. However, this meet will be the stepping stone propelling us to the tougher part of the season.”
IUPUI has the chance to obtain the first place that they fell short of at their first meet. The Jags have been doing a lot to prepare for this event and Kaiser and Senior Mitchell Rans both believe the team has a good shot of coming out victorious.
“We’re just going into practice every day listening to Coach Roeder and following the plans and goals we set for ourselves at camp over the summer and we’re just taking it one step at a time,” Rans said, “The Jaguar invitational will be a good meet for us to perform in front of the hometown fans since we don’t get many of these opportunities.”
As a team that has won the Horizon League 3 times in 4 years, the Jags are looking to get back to their domination of Horizon League cross country. The first step to that is looking for ways to improve their mentality, and the early season is where the preparation starts.
“We don’t let our highs get too high and our lows too low. In this sport, with how mental it is, you have to forget quickly no matter how well or poorly you do and move on,” Kaiser said, “These early meets do a great job of building momentum, helping guys see where they are, and give an opportunity to come together as a team in uniform to work towards a common goal of getting the best version of ourselves every day.”
The future is bright for the Jags, as their best runners are upperclassmen with lots of practical experience they can pass along to the freshman at practice and at races.
“Just keep trusting the plan that we have here at IUPUI," said Rans. "Sometimes when stuff doesn’t go your way when you’re young you can't get frustrated. So many things we all go through as student-athletes and all of the upperclassmen are there for them they need to know no matter what."
After the Jaguar Invitational, the team has the Joe Piane Invitational at Notre Dame on Sept. 29, and the Bradley “Pink” Classic on Oct. 13.
“Our overall goal is to win the conference which will be a tough task with a couple solid teams in Horizon league this year and to place 8th or higher in the regional which would be a great showing,” Kaiser said.
While the stress of bringing home another Horizon League championship seems big, Kaiser sees the bigger picture in life outside of cross country and is grateful to do what he loves every day.
“There is no pressure when you put your faith in God,” Kaiser said, “I do everything to the best of my ability and He gets to decide if I’m worthy of any success or failure I have. My identity doesn’t come from a time or a place. I go out and have fun with the fellas every day in practice. I like to keep it simple. Real pressure is putting food on the table for your family when you can’t afford it or being able to pay the rent when you don’t have the funds. There are people who have to deal with that and much worse every day. That’s pressure. College running isn’t that. This sport is a privilege, so incredibly grateful to be a part of it.”