Cross Country Gears Up for NAIA Nationals – Coyote Corner with Shane Calvin
Kansas Wesleyan distance runner Shane Calvin (JR/Lakin, Kan.) knows he’s going to be nervous. It is simply unavoidable.
“It’s the biggest meet in the country for us, so really really nervous,” Calvin said of the NAIA Men’s Cross Country Championships he’ll be competing at 7:30 a.m. (CET) Friday in Tallahassee, Fla. “It’s kind of hard not to think about it.
Calvin will start with teammate Austin Hess (JR/Garden City, Kan.), 76 other individuals and 36 teams. It’s his first appearance in an NAIA national event, but he feels he’s done everything he can to prepare for the 8 kilometer race.
“I did my best at the end of the season,” he said. “When we last met (Kansas Conference Championships on Nov. 5), I hit a PR (personal best) of seven seconds, so I feel pretty good about how we’re coming into the race.”
Calvin indeed peaks at the right time. He placed seventh in 25 minutes, 41.29 seconds in the KCAC race as KWU placed second in the team standings behind Saint Mary. Hess finished 14th in 26:00.02.
“It’s eating well, sleeping well, staying away from things that could hurt me,” Calvin said. “I think the most important thing is always consistency, doing the same thing over and over will always get you a little better, a little further.”
He also credits Hess, who has been at or near him for the past few months as they prepared and progressed through the season.
“It started during the summer when we were roommates,” he said. “We had four or five months of training with each other, being there for all the hard training and long runs on our own. He was certainly very useful to have by his side.
“Shane is what we would call a player,” KWU coach Garrett Young said. “He will hardly lead any training. In fact, he usually lags a bit behind Jake (Cruz) and Austin, but always in the most important moments he will step up and perform like you know he needs to and like we expect him to.
Calvin recalled the last big event he attended to try to help him prepare.
“The first time I qualified for the state track, we went in the 4×800 meters and that was the first event held at a state track meet,” he said. declared. “There were constantly a ton of people everywhere, so it’s hard not to be nervous with how many eyes there were.”
Tallahassee’s course is tough but manageable, Calvin said.
“It’s a 2,400m loop and it’s a slight downhill for the most part, but the last 600m is meant to be a really big hill,” he said. “It’s kind of a turning point for a lot of people. I think I have a lot of strength to be able to go through it without falling.
“I think Florida is playing pretty strongly into our strengths from what we’ve been working on all season,” Young said. “We like those fast courses and a bit of a challenge in there. I’m not going to say we’ve spent the season preparing for this specific course, but what we’ve been doing all season gives us a head start going into Friday.
Hess returns to domestic competition
Hess is making her second appearance in an NAIA event after competing in the Outdoor Championships Half Marathon in May.
“He and Shane have been stepping into practices and races all season long,” Young said. “I think having them both together is going to give them both some confidence.
“It’s the reward for a lot of hard work and hard work over the past two years as upperclassmen, but also not in their late senior years.”
Ehrlich represents the women of the KWU
Madisyn Ehrlich (FR/Salina, Kan.) will cap off her stellar freshman season by competing in the NAIA Women’s 5K race on Friday which begins at 8:30 a.m.
She qualified for the Nationals by placing 10th at the KCAC Championships with a time of 19:02.88.
“It’s just been a great learning experience for her,” Young said. “She’s affording herself the luxury of stepping into this with no expectations – you’re a freshman in your first season of college competition and you end up at the national championship. At this point, you have to run hard and see where you are.
“It’s a taste of what national competition looks like. It’s something you want to come back to every year and you have to work to achieve it. I think that will fuel his passion for the sport.