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New Coach, New Team

by Kennedy Henson

Austin Kirby is the new head coach of the cross-country team, which also requires him to be an assistant basketball coach. Kirby is going into his fourth season as an assistant basketball coach, two of these years were while he attended school here, and two years after graduating. He never ran cross-country as an athlete, but expressed excitement in learning from the athletes who have competed before.
“We only have three returning runners from last season, and one freshman who ran track in high school. Other than that, everyone is new to the sport, a lot of them being from the basketball team,” said Kirby. Since he is also assisting the basketball team, Kirby has encouraged some of the team members to run as well, to help with endurance and to stay in shape for the season. A cross-country team can only enter five runners per race. There are 14 members on the team currently, so not all of them will be able to race at once . When asked how he expected basketball players to compete with cross-country runners Kirby said,“Those basketball guys are putting up some of the best times, and they’ll all get a chance to compete in a race.”
With Kirby having no previous experience with cross-country, he has learned a lot from the returning runners, Kariem Ali, Jacob Gillis and Jeffrey Hendricks. “These guys are really excited to see the program growing and to see what the new team can do,” said Kirby. Having no experience, it was also challenging to learn the correct way to train and practice. With help from the returners, Kirby has found a schedule of training that seems to work well for the runners on the team. “If we have a race on a Friday, we go really hard the Monday before, really running long distances and speed. Tuesday is focused on slower jogging and going easier on the legs after the day before. Wednesday is similar to Monday, and then the day before the race is for stretching out the legs and staying loose for the meet,” said Kirby.
Returning runner and sophomore business management major Kariem Ali commented on Kirby, saying, “He’s pretty cool and he’s trying hard to comprehend all of the new information, and he’s really getting it.”

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