By Zack Peñalva Sports Editor
The Eagles have their second meet of the season on Saturday at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. After both the men and women’s team finished fifth in last week’s Berea Invitational, the Eagles are looking to get faster.
Berea functioned as a good measuring point for the Eagles as they returned to action after a long offseason. The Berea meet was a shortened race for both teams as they look to knock the rust off before the season begins.
“To prepare for the season we trained all summer, aiming for 30-40 miles a week and have been practicing since arriving back at Asbury a week early,” said senior Caleb Woodard. ” We have already run three 5K’s so far this preseason, so we are ready to take on our first 8K.”
Sophomore Allison Lyon led the women’s team at Berea. Lyon finished the 2km race in a time 12:54; good enough for 13th place overall. On the men’s side, freshman Yoel Rivas led the Eagles in the 5k. With a pace of 5:21 per mile, Rivas was about five seconds off from finishing in the top ten of runners. At Centre, the men’s team will run an 8k.
“For me, the meet [at Berea] was more about tasting what racing feels like again,” said junior Sam Starnes who finished 33rd overall with a time of 17:10. “We won’t be able to compare our times from this past meet to the one coming up this weekend because they’re different distances, so it was really about getting back out there and re-entering the race mentality.”
To offer some perspective, at last year’s Centre College meet, the top men’s finisher, Victor Pataky of Centre, finished the 8k in 26:36.09; a pace of 5:18 per mile.
Last season was a good one for Asbury as both teams finished third in the conference meet at the end of the year. The highlight of last year’s team was Falkenberg; she qualified for the NAIA national meet for the second year in a row. Now a senior, she missed the Berea opener due to injury, and it will be a major lift to the Eagles to have her back in action and on the track that took her to nationals last year.
Starnes acknowledged that the new freshmen are ready to step up and challenge for their spots. “It’s hard to tell where I’ll even place on the team,” he said. “For the upcoming meet I’m going in pretty open…I got injured in the spring and for part of the summer, so I don’t know what my times are going to look like. I really just want to try my hardest.”
With this still only being the second meet of the season, the Eagles will still have some rust to knock off as they prepare for the long road that will eventually take them to the Conference Finals in November, and possibly the National Championship Meet after that.