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Trailblazer Cross Country prepares for final push at Nationals

Following a pair of runner-up finishes at the Region 24 meet on Oct. 31, the Vincennes University Cross Country teams have quickly shifted their focus to the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, IA.

The No. 10-ranked VU women’s cross country team will again look to have a strong showing out of the top two finishers in Region 24, Meagan Moreno and Kyra Young.

Vincennes’ women’s team will also need a the remaining top five of Kaylee Lange, Jacy Collins and Kaitlyn Koenig to continue to improve, as they have all season.

“On the women’s side, for sure, we’re heading in the right direction,” VU Cross Country coach Chris Gafner said. “We are healthier and we are the most fit we’ve been. I think we have a chance to improve on our ranking and I’m excited for Saturday.”

Vincennes University’s men’s team currently sits at No. 18 in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches Poll released this past week and the Trailblazers will undoubtedly look to improve on their ranking at Nationals.

The VU men’s team will be heading to Iowa short-handed though, as freshman Walter Tanui will not be running as he is nursing a calf injury.

Vincennes will need freshman Trenton Faulkner and sophomore Nick Vogt to step up for VU this weekend. Gavyn Mundt, Joshua Hodge and Kyle Baugh will likely round out the Blazer top five in Tanui’s absence.

“On the men’s side, we’re still dealing with injuries. Walter will not be running, he’s had a long-term injury that’s just not getting better and at this point it’s best to just get him ready for track season,” Gafner added.

“I think Trenton Faulkner has looked good, he should be ready to go. We’re hoping that Nick Vogt’s knee is improving and will be ready to go,” Gafner said of his top two runners. “The rest of the guys have been trucking along, they are working hard and they are prepared. I think they are ready to go in and run some of their best times of the season.”

The 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will take place Saturday, Nov. 14 with the first race scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. eastern in Fort Dodge, IA.

“I think this is a course that we can run some fairly fast times at. It’s not a blazing fast course, but it’s not as slow as some of the courses we’ve been on this year,” coach Gafner said. “Nationals is something that we focus on every year and I think we are all excited.”

“One of the things I try to hit home with is when we go to our National meet, we’re on an equal playing field with everyone. Some of the meets we’ve gone to in the past, like Louisville this year, we’re competing against juniors and seniors, but when we go to the NJCAA National meet, it’s just freshmen and sophomores, just like us.”

“Even though Nationals is a focus for us, I try to treat this as just another meet. Of course we’re trying to be at our peak at this point, but we’re trying to approach it just like every other meet. Every meet we go in and we focus on the effort level that we bring. It’s not about the time or the place, because you can’t control the conditions, but you can control how much effort you put in, so that’s really what we strive to do.”

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