Preview: Mountain Lions enter 2008 a deeper, more talented team

By Gavin H. Rogers published September 3, 2008

It is early morning at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus and the first students, staff, and faculty are just filing in to meet the day when down one of the many trails that emanate from the school comes a troop of runners who are clearly “in the zone.” One of the staff turns to an other and says, “those runners, they seem to be like rabbits lately â€" not only are they fast but there are more and more of them every year.” This hypothetical staff member would not be far off the truth because under the careful guidance of coach Mark Misch, the UCCS cross country team has just about doubled over the past two seasons.

“The development that has happened during the last year is unbelievable,” said assistant coach David Harmer, “We have gone from 33 to 60 athletes (in cross country and track and field) and we are upgrading talent to compete at all levels and events.”

This new growth he credits to Mischâ€TMs philosophy with its focus on education, opportunity, tough training, and bottom-up team development.

In addition to the 16 returnees on the cross country team, Misch is bringing nine freshmen aboard. Since the menâ€TMs side has four seniors this year, he concentrated his recruiting there with eight men and only one woman. He says he plans to redshirt three or four of the male freshmen to develop talent and depth; however, he will still allow them to compete unattached so that they can get a taste of competition at the college level.

With so many freshmen coming in this year, especially from much lower elevations, he has an added emphasis on training, health, and nutrition.

“[The freshmen] are sucking wind right now,” said first-year graduate assistant Corey Kubatzky, “but it will pay off at the end of the season.”

The returnees, many of whom competed successfully in individual events over the summer, add experience to the team.

“Weâ€TMre at a whole different level from last year,” said Misch, “and with coach Harmer running the fall track program we will be having a smoother program. For all this I am very thankful.”

Kubatzky summarizes Mischâ€TMs philosophy as the “good team, not just a few good individuals” approach that maximizes potential.

“Every single person counts,” said Misch, “our fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh runners all have to be as prepared and focused as our top three.”

Additionally, he not only wants to develop the UCCS team but also individuals that will succeed in the post-college environment.

“I hope to fuel the passion, and give [the runners] all the tools and advice at my disposal,” said Misch. “There are lot more races after college than in.”

With this in mind he is instilling consistency and confidence in all his runners and preparing them “emotionally, physically, and mentally” with one short-term goal in mind â€" the regional finals in Kearney, Nebraska on November 8.

“Iâ€TMve ran the course myself, and itâ€TMs an exceptionally tough course,” said Misch. “It centers on a hill that backs onto a golf course, and it ascends and descends that hill several times. Fortunately, it matches our training.”

This focus on the regional finals means a slight de-focus on the teamâ€TMs place in the conference although he does expect to do well there as well.

“Iâ€TMm not really worried about anyone else in the conference, Iâ€TMm more worried about ourselves,” said Misch. “That being said, the conference is changing, last year we were fifth, and we definitely have a better team this year. Now all we have to do is keep the wheels on the wagon, go in the right direction, and stay healthy.

“All in all our expectations are high. We have the right meets this year and we will be athletically ready when we need to be.”

Additional News Stories
December 20, 2008Pinter, Five Others Named to RMAC All-Academic TeamsDan Pinter of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference men's cross country first team all-academic, the conference announced Friday.
November 22, 2008UCCS Men Take 17th at NationalsSLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ rise to prominence in men’s cross country continued Saturday as the Mountain Lions took 17th at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Cooper’s Lake Campground.
November 8, 2008'Depth Charge' Sinks Highlands, Sends UCCS to NationalsKEARNEY, Neb. – Mark Misch’s ‘depth charge’ sent the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs men’s cross country team to nationals for only the second time in school history.
September 20, 2008UCCS Women Take Fifth, Men Ninth at University of Nebraska MeetLINCOLN, Neb. – In the cross country community, it is widely recognized that the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is the equal of most, if not all, Division I conferences. Knowing that, it’s little wonder that University of Colorado at Colorado Spring coach Mark Misch is preparing his team for the RMAC championships by competing in consecutive Division I meets.
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