Big Ten Preview (10-31)
Bloomington, IN - As No. 19 Indiana heads to the Big Ten Cross Country Championships this weekend in East Lansing, Mich., head coach Robert Chapman sat down with iuhoosiers.com to discuss the all-important month of November.
Now that the first of the big three meets (league, regional and national) is here this week, how does that impact this week's training? What is the difference between your team's training approach between two weeks from the race and week of the race?
RC: "What is unique is that the Regional and National races are 10,000m. Some teams like to taper and add speed to the training at the end of the season. Our philosophy has been to keep training on track for running 10,000m two times in nine days (at the Regional and Nationals). Our strength is our strength, so we need to stick with that."
If you had to pick one runner who could surprise at the Big Ten meet, who would that be and why?
RC: "I've been very pleased with the progression of our entire crew. They have done a great job so far this fall. While some of our guys were high profile guys in high school, a good portion of our crew are guys who have been grinding it our for four or five years. I feel we've been over-achieving to accomplish all that we have. I think it may suprise some people to see where Chad Andrews will likely finish, simply because he hasn't been front and center in races so far. He's always done a solid job of being prepared for the championship part of the season."
Obviously, a great performance at regionals earns your team an NCAA at-large bid. Thus, more emphasis may be placed on that meet than the Big Ten meet. What are the keys to maintaining this focus for three straight weeks?
RC: "While we never downplay the Big Ten Championships, we also have to keep perspective that the season doesn't end with the Big Ten meet either. It is a lot like basketball and the conference tourney versus the NCAA tourney. We want to go out and battle to finish as high as we can in the conference championships, but we also know that the "big dance" is in front of us as well."
How does the balance of Big Ten cross country compare from 2002 to 2003?
RC: "Well, right now, there are three teams ranked in the top seven in the nation. So we are without a doubt the deepest conference in the nation, by far. That's a strong statement, considering the Big Ten had seven teams out of the 31 at the NCAA Championships last year."
When the season starts in August, you have goals that you hope to attain by November. How does the current condition of the team compare to goals set nearly three months ago?
RC: "Fitness-wise, we are very strong. I have no worries whatsoever from a physical standpoint. This is the most experienced team, in terms of NCAA Championship experience, that Indiana University has had since 1980. So in terms of confidence, we are certainly prepared. In terms of achieving goals, I think a lot is going to depend on how hungry these guys are."
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