bleedCrimson.net will be interviewing the coaches from the men's and women's cross country teams throughout their season. This week we spoke with assistant coach Paul Harkins about the men's and women's teams upcoming meet at the NCAA regionals in Fort Collins, CO. The men's team will feature Josh Sifuentes, Ian Ruybalid, Michael Hart, Patrick Hernandez, Anthony Ellis, James Nduati and Marcus Porter. The women's team will feature Ingrid Flores, Brandi Gutierrez, Amy Arenas, Brittany Hurtado, Christina Herrera, Rayanna Fernandez and Jessica Payne.
bleedCrimson.net: Your team didn't quite have the finish that you wanted at the WAC Championship meet a couple weeks ago, what have you been able to take away from that to help you prepare for this week?
Paul Harkins: We've talked to everybody about how, yeah, we were a little disappointed at WAC but now is a great opportunity to redeem ourselves and run the way we're capable of doing. That's kind of what we've been talking about, using this as another opportunity for redemption. We're facing two of the three WAC teams that beat us so it'll be nice to get another shot at them.
bc.net: Ian Ruybalid finished in 14th at the WAC meet and earned 2nd Team All-Conference, talk about Ian and the guys you have running at the Regional meet and what you're looking to be able to accomplish this weekend.
PH: On the men's side we're looking to establish ourselves as a program that's up and coming. Ian did a great job for us at WAC earning 2nd Team All-Conference as a freshman, that's a great thing to do. I think there were only three other freshmen ahead of him. Obviously he established himself as one of the guys to beat in the conference for years to come.
As far as the regional level this is going to be a big jump for us in terms of competition as well as hopefully the future of our program. Like I said, we're trying to establish ourselves as an up and coming team. This is a good weekend to put ourselves on the map.
bc.net: On the women's side, Brandi Gutierrez took home 4th in the WAC meet and earned 1st Team All-WAC honors, talk about her and the rest of the girls you have running this weekend and what you're looking to accomplish on the women's side.
PH: The five girls are definitely running very solid. They've run solid for us all year. Brittany and Christina have been coming on all year and Brittany really showed it at conference and I definitely think there's some more in her. As far as Brandi, Ingrid and Amy up front, I think those three have an outside shot at being All-Region which is Top 25 which would give them the potential for qualifying on to the next stage of the NCAA championships which is hopefully where we're taking the program the next couple of years.
bc.net: Looking at the weather forecast, there's a slight chance for snow on Friday and then you'll race on Saturday and the projected temperature for race time is about mid 40's. Will that affect your strategy at all?
PH: I'm not too worried about it right now. Being in the warm climate of Las Cruces we've been checking the weather on a daily basis to see if anything has changed. But in preparation for the colder weather we've actually been training early in the morning this whole week at about 6:30 or 7:00 when it's 35 or 40 degrees. So I think we'll be okay as far as that goes. If there is snow we'll make sure they have longer spikes just to make sure they have a little bit more traction on the course. But I'm not too worried about the weather.
bc.net: What type of course is the Regional course compared to the course you ran at home for the WAC meet?
PH: From what I've heard it's a fairly fast course. It's a golf coure like at home but no hills. No 600 meter long hills right at the finish line. I've heard it's flat and fast, mostly golf course, you cross a couple bridges. From what I've heard it sounds like a nice course to get a nice rhythm going which will work with our general race strategy of being conservative in the first part and getting into that rhythm and just moving forward and picking people off as we go through the race. I think on a course that's flat and fast it works to our advantage.