Cross country is officially back.
Week zero gave us a couple of good performances. But this past weekend, pretty much everybody hit the course for the first time.
If you're new to the Weekend Takeaways, welcome. This is where I'll discuss the top times and performances of the weekend. I'll also add experience and analysis from my own ten year cross country career that ended at the University of Tennessee.
This is a fun time of the year. The spikes (or flats) are finally back on. The workouts are getting a little more challenging. And the competitive juices are flowing again.
August racing can be a mental battle. You've gone some hurt in training, but it's easy to forget just how tough cross country is. Sometimes, you don't realize you aren't mentally ready to dig in and race until the two mile mark of your first competition. Often times, you haven't done race specific workouts that will give you the results you're looking for. At this point of the year, base training is more important than an August personal best. And that's not a bad thing.
But honestly, Tennessee's athletes haven't shown any signs of rust. Let's dive into the highlights of the weekend.
Let's start in North Carolina with the top performance of the young season so far.
Jenna Hutchins took the win at the Western North Carolina Cross Country Carnival. But she didn't just win. She did so emphatically.
Hutchins tied a 14-year-old meet record of 18:09. That was set by Kate Niehaus, who went out to run at Stanford.
Not a bad start.
The jump from middle school to freshman year is a big one. And often times, it's not uncommon to see an athlete run their mile personal best over a 3200 in their first season of high school track. But this is August. And Hutchins ran like a seasoned vet.
If she continues to improve this rapidly, look out. There won't be too many people who can beat the talented freshman from Science Hill.
In the mid-state, the Voyles Classic opened up the Middle Tennessee cross country season.
This is a meet I know well. I ran in it three times. It's always blazing hot. And you're always cautiously optimistic that you might be able to run a personal best. But really, Voyles is a preseason meet. And it's hard to run a career-best when it's so hot this early in the season.
Voyles used to be run on a Thursday afternoon. Now it's on a Saturday morning once again to ease the intensity of an August day in the South. But it's still a bit early to take too many things away from this competition.
(NEW YEAR, NEW VENUE: VOYLES CLASSIC RECAP: CLICK HERE)
First and foremost, Landri Wilcox continued her momentum from a fantastic freshman campaign last year. Sometimes it's hard to replicate the jump from eighth grade to freshman year. Like Hutchins, she's in for a huge year if she continues to improve at the same rate.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but a member of the Winders family had a big race.
Crazy, I know.
Dinah Winders took second place behind Wilcox in 18:42.
Out West, the HOKA Postal National Flagship once again attracted some incredible athletes for a great night of racing. Houston High School senior Bradley Turner opened up his final season nicely with a 9:46 on the track. His teammate Lydia Tankersley took home the girls title.
(HOKA POSTAL MEMPHIS FULL RECAP: CLICK HERE)
Preseason 3200 races are a good way to gauge your fitness this early in the year. Plus, the stress of running a cross country personal best isn't there. It's so easy to overanalyze the results early in the year. August racing is about trusting the process and taking the first step.
More to come on the cross country course. And much more on the way this week as we continue to break down the start of the cross country season.
It's good to be back.