Early in the morning of Sept. 1, most people were asleep while the Oklahoma State University cross-country teams ran in the Cowboy Preview.
OSU, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tulsa came to Stillwater at 8 a.m. to open the season with a 5-kilometer run at the OSU Cross Country Course.
“It’s actually the first time we’ve done this,” coach Dave Smith said. “… The meet we typically go to open our seasons is Tulsa Duals, but it was on a weekend and we wanted to open a little earlier.”
The preview didn’t have every runner from each school participate. It acted as a way to get every school involved.
“A lot of us, ourselves, and their schools included, certainly might not have run our full team today, and the teams that did run aren’t prepared to run super aggressively,” Smith said.
The preview also acts as an intro to the longer meets later in the season. The team's next meet is the Bluegrass Invitational in Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday.
“It’s always good to run competitively and to finish well, but this is more about just getting out, getting a test run to see where we are,” Smith said.
Although the preview was just a tease of what is to come, there are some standout athletes to keep an eye on as the season continues.
True freshman Katie Spencer is one of the Cowgirls’ youngest secret weapons. The Nebraska native came in second in the women’s run.
“So proud of her and she’s doing a great job for a freshman,” Smith said “… To come out here and finish well and beat her teammates and do a good job is very impressive.”
In the men’s race, returning runner Cerake Geberkidane, a sophomore from Denver, came in first, strides ahead of second place.
“He’s always been talented, but now, I think he’s on a different level mentally,” Smith said. “He’s more dialed in. We’re going to see more and more of what we saw today as the season goes on.”
One member to look for is Ingeborg Loevnes. Although the senior from Norway hasn’t run for the Cowboys, she is one to watch out for.
“A returner who hasn’t run cross country for us before is Ingeborg, who won, and Ingeborg was hurt last year so she missed the season,” Smith said. “But she’s extremely talented and Olympic-hopeful for 2016.”
OSU cross-country is tied at No. 4 in the NCAA standings with Wisconsin. The Cowboys finished ranked ninth last year.
“I think it’s early — no one knows what anybody’s got,” Smith said “… So once we get to a couple races, maybe by the (Cowboy) Jamboree, they’ll have a much clearer representation of who the teams that are really ready to run are.”
After the Bluegrass Invitational, the Cowboys and Cowgirls won’t have another meet until the Jamboree on Sept. 26, which is a 10K, held at the OSU Cross Country Course.
“Now, we’re just preparing for the Jamboree and that’s our bigger, higher competition to host and we’ll be ready to go for that one full strength,” Smith said.