Despite the graduation of several runners from last season, men's cross country coach Steve Taylor said there was a strong team returning this year, as well as promising new freshmen.
The competitiveness and spirit of the team are things to be excited about, Taylor said.
"This weekend we beat William and Mary and George Mason," Taylor said. And both are very competitive programs. I'm very excited about where [the team] is heading this season."
The cross country teams were also successful in the Spider Alumni Open on Sept. 1, where the men's team placed first and the women's team second.
"It was great for the team to beat the in-state rival William and Mary," said Kyle Ragan, a senior on the men's team. It was a good starting point to the season, and we didn't have Billy Fayette or Jordan Chavez there. We hope when they rejoin the team, we can pick it up from there and look forward to future meets."
The team was missing Fayette and Chavez at the last meet because they were competing in the 28th annual World Mountain Running Championships in Italy. They were two of four American men running at the championship.
Chavez finished 17th and Fayette in 39th place. In the women's race, another University of Richmond student, Clare Moretz, finished 23rd.
"I think it's easier in our sports world where we're overloaded with sports information, like the Olympic Games, to lose sight of how impressive that is," Taylor said.
Ragan said his main goals for the team was to win the Atlantic 10's, reach the top six for the NCAA regional meet and potentially qualify for the championship. "One of the biggest changes we have this year is much better leadership," Ragan said. "From the 2010 team, we graduated four guys who were all very talented; it kind of left a void last year we were trying to fill. You can tell the difference this year; we've all been in a year longer and have a closer and better team."
At the next meet at William and Mary, Taylor wants the team to continue running as a pack and keep the split from the first to fifth to 40 seconds.
"We operate as a full team, top to bottom," Taylor said. "They're very close together when they're racing, and that's very important in cross country."
Lori Taylor, coach of the women's team and Steve Taylor's wife, shared similar thoughts about the women's team.
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"We've got a really young team," she said. "We're excited to see how they make the transition to college, training and racing.
"Last year was really a down year for us because we had graduated so many girls the year before, but the girls really brought things together and thought about what they wanted to accomplish. It really laid the groundwork for this year, and we're going after that A-10 title again," Lori Taylor said.
The team won the A-10 title in 2010, junior Molly Parsons said, but winning the division title was not the team's only goal.
"We always try to place as high as possible at the NCAA Regional meet, with the hopes of sending either our team or individuals to the NCAA Nationals," Parsons said.
With talented returning members, new freshmen and a great start to the season, the cross-country runners hope to achieve their goals this year.
"We always try to be a really close-knit team, which contributes to our main goal of always working together ... when we work together, our goals for the season will fall into place," Parsons said.
"Our conference continues to get more and more competitive. You have to show up ready to race, and you can't just be good, you have to be great and to want it more than they do. The team has to count on one another and do whatever it takes for each other to be the best they can be and always contribute to the team," Lori Taylor said.
With talented returning members on the team, new freshman and a great start to the season, the cross-country members hope to achieve their goals this year. "We always try to be a really close-knit team, which contributes to our main goal of always working together ... when we work together, our goals for the season will fall into place," Parsons said.
Lori said: "Our conference continues to get more and more competitive. You have to show up ready to race, and you can't just be good, you have to be great and to want it more than they do. The team has to count on one another and do whatever it takes for each other to be the best they can be and always contribute to the team."
Contact reporter Mia Lichter at firstname.lastname@example.org
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