Men’s cross country ready for important season

Courtesy of Kent State Athletic Department Michael Heller, redshirt junior, tied for second in the MAC last year.

Courtesy of Kent State Athletic Department Michael Heller, redshirt junior, tied for second in the MAC last year.

Julie Sickel

After tying for second in the MAC last season, the men’s cross country team is looking to capture its third championship title in three seasons. The Daily Kent Stater got redshirt junior Michael Heller to discuss some of his hopes for the team as their first event at the Tommy Evans Invitational Sept. 8 approaches.

Q: What do you think the team is looking forward to most about this upcoming season?

A: I think we’re really excited to kind of redeem ourselves. Last season we were a really young team, and we were defending our MAC Championship from 2009. We tied for second last year. So we’ve put in a lot of work for this fall. I talked to the guys, they’ve worked really hard, so I think we’re really excited to prove ourselves again and make a statement that we can hang with anybody in the conference.

Q: What could be the team’s biggest challenge this fall?

A: Experience still might be a challenge. We’re still relatively young. I think last year helped us a lot; we’re ready to start fighting.

Q: What would you say will be the “winning strategy” for you all this year?

A: Tactically, to race and win, we’re going to have to run together as a team in a pack. It’s easier to run together in a race than it is by yourself. I think that first race at Akron we’re going to see where we’re at, and that’ll be able to tell us a lot about how we’re going to race the rest of the season.

I think the conference itself is pretty wide open. I think it’s pretty even. I don’t think there’s a team that’s way more dominant than any other. I could be wrong, but that’s the way I see it. I think we’ve got a really good chance to win. Anything can happen.

Q: Your team seems like a really tight-knit group of guys. Tell me about that.

A: You spend over an hour a day, almost two hours, running together, and so you just start talking, and you learn about each other and you find out what everyone’s about. You’re working toward the same thing, so there’s a really tight bond that’s created.

I think we’re all like brothers. Me being the oldest guy on the team, I feel like the older brother a little bit. We’re just a big family. We all have fun and we enjoy being around each other.

Q: How did the team handle training while being apart this summer?

A: We did an online training log. Danny Bullard set us up with this website called It’s a like a running social network. You do your run and then you go online and blog what you did. So I can go and see what everyone else on the team did ,and I can read their comments about how they felt on the run. It keeps me accountable. It keeps (my teammates) accountable. I can see what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.

I think we’re all in pretty good shape. This summer for me has been my best summer ever, mileage-wise. I feel great. I think everyone else is feeling good about themselves as well. That’s the most important thing, I think; going into a season you’ve got to be mentally ready for it. I think we’re all excited, optimistic, refreshed and ready to have some fun and compete. Just run, like Bruce Springsteen, ‘we were born to run.’

Contact Summer Kent Stater editor Julie Sickel at [email protected].