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‘Cats track and cross country may soon run wild again

Enduring the difficult stretches while always moving forward is a good outlook for everyone to continue on in difficult times, and in the sports of cross-country and track and field, enduring and fighting the urge to quit is a critical key to success.

Starting the race for the Big Sky Cross Country Championships. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)
Starting the race for the Big Sky Cross Country Championships. (Sara Parker / The Signpost) Photo credit: Signpost Archives

As decisions on sports resuming are still being made across the country, the Wildcats cross-country and track teams have been preparing for their scheduled seasons by practicing since late August.

While cross-country, which runs from September through November, wasn’t affected, the thriving Wildcat track and field team had to stop in its tracks last spring when COVID-19 swept across the globe and halted their season right before the NCAA Championships.

However, with practices resumed and the team together again, their mindset and performance has improved, particularly since teammates and coaches can help an individual improve much more than one could by working out alone.

“We’re practicing right now and we’re running together right now, but we’re not racing this fall. It’s just been great to be able to be around this great group of guys again,” said men’s cross-country head coach Corbin Talley.

The current cross-country and track seasons have been scheduled, which is a step in the right direction. The upcoming indoor track season has a start date of Jan. 10 and will run through March 13, with the Big Sky championship taking place on March 15.

The cross-country season, which usually takes place in the fall, will happen alongside the indoor track season now, as the Big Sky Conference has shortened their season.

“All these athletes we have who run cross-country also are on our indoor track team and they do the distance races during indoor track, so it’s tricky as they might end up doing two indoor track races and three cross-country races during that time stretch,” Talley said.

Weber State cross-country and track and field have big goals in sight and achievements they want to reach this season. The schedule has made the teams hopeful the season will play normally.

“Our big goal — and we barely missed it a year ago — but our big goal is to qualify our team for the NCAA Cross Country Championship, and so we’re just looking forward to the opportunity to prove ourselves against the very best teams in the country,” Talley said.

Weber State’s track and cross-country have long histories, pieces of which have been memorialized in Javier’s Mexican Restaurant on Harrison Boulevard. Aged photographs, newspaper clippings and shots of recent Weber State athletes adorn the walls of the restaurant’s entryway.

Javier Chavez, owner of multiple restaurants throughout Northern Utah, is a member of Weber State University Athletics Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2001, as he earned nine All-Big Sky honors across cross country and indoor and outdoor track.

Talley has seen six cross country All-Big Sky Conference athletes in his tenure. He came to the Wildcats after leading Davis High School’s boy’s and girls’s cross country and track teams to a combined twenty-three state championships and forty-five region titles in his time there from 2003-2017.

Talley’s also an eight-time All-Big Sky Conference athlete; he ran for Weber State from 1999-2002, and his record in the 3,000 meters at the Swenson Gym still stands to this day.

High achievements are not a thing of the past for the runners either as current Wildcat, All-Big Sky and All-American Trey Deveraux, qualified for the NCAA indoor championships for the pole vault last year, after winning first place in the Big Sky Indoor Championships. However, the NCAA canceled due to the pandemic.

In 2019, Christian Allen finished in 14th place at the NCAA championships, the highest finish in school history and was an All-American. With multiple All-Americans across track and field, the Wildcats have high hopes for this upcoming season.

To get back to competing, achieving their goals and setting records, they will need to have their season, which while scheduled, could change due to the unique circumstances that the pandemic can create.

However, the Wildcats have been dealing with that obstacle head on.

“There’s restrictions, they’re in their masks and they’re trying to be careful, but it’s just great to have them back together,” Talley said.

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