Spring training

Brad Frank and Brad Frank

Members of the BG men’s cross country team have been entering track and field meets as open competitors throughout 2010 in preparation for its season in the fall.

Runners compete in many different distance races to improve both their speed and endurance for the upcoming season and to maintain their competitiveness between seasons.

“The reason we compete in open track meets during the spring is to keep our competitive edge so that we’re used to racing and actually seeing competition,” said Jeff Ehler, who will be a senior next season.

“We race against different [Mid-American Conference] schools so it gives us an opportunity to see what we might face in the fall, where we stand, and what we might need to do better.”

Earlier this month they raced against fellow MAC schools Toledo and Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

The Falcons are primarily concerned with maintaining their high-level training all year, but they are conscious of the times they record when competing in open meets.

“During the spring, I would say a lot of us would say it’s about our training, but to say we don’t care about competing is not at all the case,” Ehler said. “We’re excited when we get the chance to compete. We’re excited.”

Runners will compete in races from as short as 800 meters to as long as 10,000 meters, the length of the course at the Great Lakes regional meet, the qualifier for nationals.

The following are some notable finishes so far this year in open competition: Jason Salyer placed second in the 5,000 meter run at the Ohio Women’s Team Challenge earlier this month, Peter Miles placed third in the one-mile run at the Tom Wright Classic in late January and Jesse Smuda placed third in the 5,000 meter run at the Tom Wright Classic.

Having success in 5,000 meter run is a good sign for the season opening dual meet at Toledo. The length of the course for that race is the same.

A win against Toledo would erase some of the bad memories from last season’s dual against Toledo, when the Falcons did not fare well against the Rockets. Toledo grabbed four of the first five finishes en route to a 40-19 victory.

Ehler said some changes in the team’s approach to training can allow the Falcons to overcome some weaknesses they had last season and be a much improved team.

“Some of the major strengths we have as a team going into this fall is that everyone is so into training as hard as they can,” Ehler said. “In recent years people would say they would train but did actually mean it.”

One of the biggest ways the team can improve is by staying closer together during races and then getting the gap between the first and last runner on the team closer.

“When it comes to training, everyone needs to stay together. Sometimes everyone gets spread out,” Ehler said. “This spring was the first time we saw people running together consistently.

“We need to fight better this season. That’s one of the things we need to have.”

As a senior, Ehler has some goals he would like to see the team accomplish before he leaves the program.

“For our team this year, I’m hoping to accomplish leaving the team better than what it was when I first got here, though we’ve gotten a lot better,” he said. “I don’t want to be last place in the MAC again. I want to beat Toledo in the dual. I want to come in the top 10 at the All-Ohio meet.

“These are all reachable goals for our team. I know I’m not the only who has these goals.”

After competing in the Gina Relays in Hillsdale, Mich., this past weekend, the men’s cross country team is now done competing in open track and field meets for the spring.

The Falcons will continue training during the summer and arrive on campus for intense practices prior to the season.

The 2010 schedule has yet to be released, but the first meet will be in early September, perhaps the first Friday of the month like in 2009.