bleedCrimson.net: How has your teams' training been going the last week and a half in preparation for the Pre-National meet?
Paul Harkins: Training has been going very well. We had a great workout last night, we had a great workout last Friday and had a great workout the Tuesday before that. Both the men and women are fairly confident and I think are very ready to go. I'm hopeful that they learned quite a bit about running at sea level from the Paul Short experience going into the Pre-National meet. I think they're definitely capable of doing some good things this weekend.
bc.net: You've talked about the differences between running at elevation and running at sea level and the Pre-National meet will closer to sea level. What have you seen differently from your kids in the last week and a half in terms of preparation and mindset having gone through a sea-level meet at the Paul Short Invitational?
PH: I think they understand the difference in feeling a little more now. They've all ran at sea-level before but when you haven't done it in a while it can be a little bit of a shock. Plus when you're running at sea-level you're running a lot faster and if you haven't prepared for that yet, we'd only done two workouts leading up to that race where we were essentially trying to get down to sea-level race pace or faster and so I think that was a little bit of a shock to the system. I think those workouts provided some benefit but I don't think it really hit them until the week after or this week. I think they should really be ready going into the meet this weekend.
There are just a couple of different things you have to look out for and if we do too much of that fast stuff too soon then I think we might peak too early and not be really fresh and running 100 percent when it comes to conference and regional time and that's the reason we didn't really do a lot of that sea-level stuff prior to the Paul Short meet. They definitely felt the feeling of what it's like to race at sea-level versus altitude and I think having experienced that they'll be far more prepared mentally going into this meet.
bc.net: You've talked about Madelyn Stoltze as one of the newcomers who has been making a hard push to make the conference meet team. What is her background and what have you seen from her since she arrived on campus?
PH: Madelyn is one of the most positive people on the team which I like a lot. I love the positivity coming out of her. She had a setback right when she got here. She was having some sciatica pain in her lower back which was causing her an issue with training but she was talented enough to be able to work through that and I think she's been able to work herself quite possibly into our top five. She's been doing a great job in workouts right now, it's just a matter of getting her into the races. She's definitely going to be on our conference squad. But we're taking her out this weekend as well. Brittany Hurtado was having some sickness issues so we weren't 100 percent sure that she was going to race so made sure we got Madelyn in there just in case we needed her to step in for Brittany. Madelyn will at least get a chance to race in the open race depending on how Brittany is doing. She's definitely ready to go.
She was a tough girl, long distance girl coming out of Moorpark Community College last year. She was a 5k/10k girl there and her personal best would definitely put her in our top three definitely on the 10k and she's probably top three or top four on the 5k for us. She's a talented girl, we just had to work through that setback at the beginning of the year but I think she's definitely ready to go. The Madelyn Stoltze train is rolling right now.
bc.net: What will the course that the teams are racing on this week be like?
PH: It's a fair course. It's not super hilly but there are some long graduals in it. It's a fair course, it's run for the most part on fairly thick grass and I think it'll be probably a little bit slower than the Paul Short course but it'll be dry based on the weather forecast so far. When we went out to the Paul Short they got eight inches of rain in Allentown, PA the Thursday before the race and made it a little bit soggy which slowed things down a little bit. I think it'll be a nice dry, firm course for us. It's not a golf course or anything like that as far as surface but it's definitely kind of a thick grass and I think our kids will handle it well.
bc.net: What will you be looking for team performance-wise.
PH: The women, the workout they did yesterday was probably the best workout I've seen as a group probably this whole season. It's good that they're all coming together at this point of the year. I think the women with Madelyn hopefully stepping up, with the Schultz girls, with Chelsa up there, Sam Thompson is running well, Brittany Hurtado as long as she's feeling good she fights like no other and with the two freshmen we have running in that group as well, they're working out very very well and I think they're coming along right about on time. Right in time for conference, right in time for regionals.
It's a very challenging race. The race times just came out this morning. We are in the women's White race and the men's White race and both of which have eight nationally ranked teams in them. If we go out there and finish in the Top 15, I'm going to be pretty happy. It's a bit more competitive than the Paul Short meet but we're more prepared as well.