This Saturday, the Longhorns will take part in the Princeton Invitational and Concordia Invite in Cedar Park.
While the matches won’t be filled with top teams, they are equally important to helping assistant coach John Hayes accomplish his goals.
“Our teams are looking just fantastic, with new people and returning experience,” Hayes said. “Our depth is getting better, and I’m prepared to see who’s going to be out in front.”
The team is sending the top 12 men most likely to bring home a win to Princeton, while Concordia‘s meet will boast middle distance runners.
Despite already competing in a couple of events, Hayes considers this to be the first real racing weekend.
“We understand where these meets sit in the whole scheme of things,” Hayes said. “We’ve been focusing on getting mentally prepared, as this weekend will serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the conference meet in two weeks.”
While runners such as junior Brock Simmons hope to see the team end up finishing in all of the top five spots this weekend, Hayes is not focused so much on the top spots.
“I just want us to end up injury-free and a step closer to being as good of a team as we can possibly be going into the conference meet,” Hayes said. “If we did end up with the top five, that’d be great, too. I just want a win.”
Last year, the team struggled after losing several super seniors, but this year’s squad has three guys stepping it up in practice to lead the pack. Junior Bryan Rhodes-Devey finished seventh in the finals last year. Patrick McGregor has shown leadership already as a red-shirt freshman, as has newcomer Ryan Dohner.
“Things are always different in competitions, though,” Hayes said. “I’m looking for at least two more guys to narrow that gap, so have a good group running up there together. We’ll just have to see how things go this weekend.”