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Running on the road

Ball State Cross Country prepares for zero home meets this season

MUNCIE, Ind.---While a vast majority of Ball State University lies asleep, Ball State Cross Country and four-year seniors, Vivian Van Eck and Juliana Stogsdill, are off to the races at practice starting as early as 7 a.m. Even with the early wake-up call, the two seniors are more than happy to experience the joy of running and the benefits it brings along with it.

 “It’s a great way to stay healthy and keep my body moving,” Van Eck saidƒ. “I just enjoy the challenge of it, working together with the team every day, and pushing myself past barriers I didn’t think I could break.”

“I like just running with my team and obviously getting a PR (personal record) makes me feel good,” Stogsdill said. “Even if I don’t PR just having a good race and feeling good also makes the pain of practice and workouts worth it.”

Over their four-year tenure with the program, the runners have only competed at Ball State a combined three times. Stogsdill competed there in her freshman and sophomore years and Van Eck only completed there as a freshman.

The program expected another race in Muncie this year, but the meet never came to be. While the news was surely disappointing, this didn’t stop the cardinals from continuing to compete at a high level while on the road. 

“At first it was hard to hear that we didn’t have a home meet because it is always fun and I had a lot of people tell me they were going to come to the home meet,” Van Eck said. “You know you work with what you got and I’m going to take every race as an opportunity to do my best, work with the team and compete.”

“Sometimes it is hard, especially the day of when we drive up our legs are kind of stiff,” Stogsdill said. “I don’t really mind staying in a hotel as it gives it the full race experience.”

While no home events in a season are an anomaly in most sports, head coach Adrian Wheatley explained this is sometimes a reality cross country runners must face.

“One of the things we look at when putting together a schedule is competitive opportunities,” Wheatley said. “We were fortunate enough to strategically put our schedule together to give us those opportunities. We were scheduled to have a home meet, but we didn’t have the competitive field that we wanted to and that’s part of it.”

As the regular season draws to a close, Van Eck, Stogsdill and Wheatley reflect on the seniors’ time in the program and the season as a whole as they turn their focus to one of the most important road meets of the year, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship. 

“I’m so excited for MAC because I think we can surprise some people,” Van Eck said.

“I’m definitely doing a lot better than last year,” Stogsdill said. “I believe in myself and the training more and I think our team will look good for conference.”

“It’s been really fun to be able to see them continue to grow,” Wheatley said. “This year has been a great year for them and they’re really showing up and growing into their own. I’m really excited about what they’ve done for the program and to see what the next several weeks possess.” 

Van Eck and Stogsdill will look to continue the homestretch of their final race just a little bit longer at the MAC Championship on Oct. 29 in Athens, Ohio.

Contact Andy Newman with comments at asnewman2@bsu.edu