SWOSU Women’s Cross Country team preview
By Rachel Masson
For The Southwestern
New season, new coaching staff additions, new runners, but a postponed season?
The SWOSU Women’s Cross Country team had everything they needed to look forward to a new season, only to find out that they will not compete this semester.
After not having a full roster last year, the team now has eight runners, most of whom are freshmen. With new faces on the team as well as coaching staff, the outlook for the team was hopeful in that it would be a successful year.
With a possibility of competing in the spring, hope for the runners is still alive.
With the postponed season, head coach Jennifer Johnson wanted the women to still be able to do something fun, so they are “running” across the country.
“We are doing an activity where we’re all trying to run a combined 2,500 miles by the end of the year to make up for not racing,” said junior runner Josilyn Schenk.
Schenk mentioned that they will be doing “little activities” and making “pit stops” to post on social media to show everyone that the team is still active even though they aren’t racing.
“It’s something to just keep the whole team engaged and interacted,” added sophomore runner Sienna Collins.
Even with not running this semester, Johnson said that team morale has not decreased.
“I think the team morale this year is better than I’ve ever seen it before, which is pretty cool given all the COVID stuff.”
Prospects/Goals for the season
Going into a new season, runners will shoot for new personal records (PR) individually, as well as for the team.
“Having a PR, an individual PR, is always nice,” Collins said. “I think this year, with those new girls we got coming in, we were really looking to just PR as a team.”
Collins said that having a new personal record as a team would help grow the overall mindset of the program since all the runners are underclassmen.
When speaking about her runners, Johnson believes that the returners are the leaders of the team since the team is mostly comprised of freshmen.
“We’re split right down the middle,” Johnson explained. “We actually have five newcomers and only three returners, and all three of those returners have stepped up.
Along with Schenk and Collins, the other returner is junior runner Bailey Richardson. Since there are only three returners, they are the appointed team leaders. The three returners are responsible for helping the new freshmen runners get accustomed to not only the school, but also the team and their competition.
Additions and losses
Yvette Talvarez was the only senior last season. However, Johnson said that she was at a disadvantage last season because there were only four women on the cross country team, and a team needs to have at least seven to have an actual team.
Last year, Johnson had three runners from the track and field team step up to join the cross country team. These additions allowed the cross country team to have a season. Since there are new runners this year, those three from track and field are not participating on the cross country team this season.
This year's team now has eight runners, with most of them being freshmen. The new runners are Katelyn Floyd, Abigail Lewis, Zalee Tapia, Courtney Williams and Giselle Zavaleta.
“I’m excited to see what they can do,” Schenk said. “They’ve been doing really well in practice.”
“They are definitely filling the gaps,” Johnson added. “Runner to runner, there was a huge time gap, which is hard to run, you feel like you’re running by yourself. So, I think they fill in those gaps really well.”
“I think they’re just a really good, solid, motivated group of girls,” Collins explained. “I think that’s more important than anything.”
Another addition is assistant coach Jaiden Hager. Hager is a recent graduate from Southwestern and majored in exercise science. She used to run for the women’s track and field team and is a graduate from Goodwell High School in Goodwell, Oklahoma.
“OBU and Harding are powerhouses,” Johnson said.
Johnson believes that OBU and Harding are on a different level compared to other schools in the GAC, especially OBU with distance.
Even though Oklahoma Baptist University and Harding are very tough competition in the Great American Conference, Collins said that the team has “a lot of potential” to be a strong team.