Update: Runner's Tribe rolled out its new site, but it broke my links! The links have now been updated, and I encourage you all to go check out the new look at Runner's Tribe!
The NCAA Pre-Nationals weekend marks the first weekend where the best start to separate themselves from the rest. Pre-Nats saw most of the top teams compete, but there were others, including men's favorite Oklahoma State, who opted for the Chile Pepper Invitational instead. The big star of the Pre-Nats meet was Jenny Barringer, who dominated some of the best runners in the country en route to a huge victory.
Her coach, Mark Wetmore, had some interesting stuff to say about Jenny coming back, and it inspired my latest column at Runner's Tribe. Here's a snippet:
Wetmore was asked in a Flotrack interview what it means to his team to have her return for this cross country season. He said: "First of all it takes a couple of hundred points off our score immediately. Secondly, they've gone from the point of being awed by her to just respecting and emulating her. Their training in the last year has come up a notch. They don't aspire to beat her right now, but a year ago they didn't even aspire to be like her and now they do."
Sometimes the hardest thing to do to a great athlete isn't beat them, it's relate to them.
How often have you talked about a great athlete and heard people use words like "freak", "machine", "out-of-this-world", "bionic", "superhero", "robotic", "cheat code" or "Kenyan"? These words don't just serve to differentiate a person, though. They emphasize that what makes them different is something we don't have and we can't match. Be they mutant, alien, programmed for destruction, or simply from the Kalenjin tribe, the sport, we are told, is just different for them.
We have a natural bias toward talent in this country, and maybe throughout the world. We love talent, we love the idea of talent, and we love to identify and worship talent. And when we've found a talent to love and worship, we do so by ascribing all of their success to their amazing talent. It's the highest honor to be described in words like the above, words that serve to separate you from the world of mere humans...
I also consider five cross country thoughts from NCAA Pre-Nationals weekend:
- The Big Three Represent: Chris Derrick, Luke Puskedra, and ... Colby Lowe?
- How good are the Stanford men?
- Can Colorado compete with Washington's women?
- How good is Jordan Hasay?
- Who was missing The Fifth Element?