Eastern New Mexico University second-year cross country coach Greg LaSage knows that the Abilene Christians of the world are out of range in Saturday’s Lone Star Conference cross country meet, set for Portales Country Club.
What he’s looking for is improvement over last year, when the Greyhounds finished eighth out of 10 men’s teams and the Zias were seventh of eight women’s squads in the league get-together.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said LaSage, who also doubles as an assistant to ENMU baseball coach Phil Clabaugh. “Our team is more talented, and I think we’re mentally tougher.”
The women’s 6-kilometer race is set for 9 a.m., with the men’s 8-kilometer race to follow around 9:40 a.m. Eleven women’s teams and eight men’s squads are slated to participate.
ACU, which relies heavily on international students, has dominated the men’s side under coach Jon Murray, winning the last 12 LSC team titles and posting the conference’s four best times this season — all in the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree in early October. The Wildcats have also won two consecutive women’s crowns, and have the league’s three top times this fall at 6K.
As for the mostly-freshman-and-sophomore Hounds and Zias, LaSage hopes to get everyone on the same page in a rare home meet.
“If we run well and compete, I think both the men and women have a legitimate chance of finishing in the top half of the conference,” he said. “I think we’re capable of doing that.”
ENMU’s top runners on the men’s side have been redshirt freshman Ricardo Hernandez, sophomore Orlando Sanchez and senior Jerry Macias. Hernandez has the LSC’s ninth-best time at 8K this season at 26 minutes, 12 seconds in the Lobe Invitational at Albuquerque.
The women’s top runner is junior Karissa Huskey, whose best time was 24:38.92 in the Lion Invitational at Texas A&M-Commerce on Oct. 11.