For cross-country star and team members, focus now turns to track

Posted December 9, 2015

After the UW-River Falls cross-country team had its first-ever qualifier for the national tournament, Julian Manley, all eyes now move to the track and field team to see if he can pull it off again.

According to the co-head cross-country and assistant track coach, Chris Rombough, success in the one sport sets a precedent for the other.

“When you have successes in cross-country, that kind of springboards into good performances in track a lot of time,” Rombough said.

However, it is a lot harder to qualify for the national tournament in track than in cross-country. During the indoor track season alone, which begins Jan. 23 for the Falcons, only 15 athletes are selected from each race, according to the WIAC sports information website.

But Rombough said that will not deter the will of Manley to succeed.

“I know he has high goals,” he said. “Will we get those goals? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Manley, a junior from Spring Valley, finished 84th in the national NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships held Nov. 21 in Winneconne, Wisconsin. Manley himself was not available for comment.

The second-year coach said there is a lot of crossover between cross-country runners and track and field runners, like Manley. These student athletes often choose to compete in both sports so that they have a chance to train year round.

According to the UWRF sports information website, the top four men who placed in the WIAC tournament for UW-River Falls — Manley, Jackson Shaw, Braydon Johnson and Zach Ambrose — also run some sort of race for the track and field team. The same goes for the top two women who placed in the WIAC tournament for UWRF, Deanna Cahoon-Draus and Abby Fouts.

Rombough said it was necessary for success in both sports.

“Basically it’s expected, everything kind of builds on one another,” he said. “We prefer it. Once you start training year round, that’s when you see the improvements.”

With all the time they spend running, Rombough also said it was important to give the athletes a break so that they had a chance to recuperate both mentally and physically. After finishing their season they got two weeks off, and then indoor track and field practice began the week of Nov. 30.

“If they did the training they were supposed to do over the summer, they were going good for about five or six months,” he said. “So that two-week break is just a nice breakaway from everything.”

The athletes usually end their outdoor track and field season at the end of May, and then begin training for cross-country at the start of June.

The indoor track season this year for the Falcons will run from the end of January until the National Indoor Championship which is held March 11 and 12 at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Then the Falcons start up their outdoor track and field season only a week later on March 19 against Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

For these Falcon athletes, the running never stops.