The Troy cross country season is set to kick off on Friday, Sept. 4, at Jacksonville State University. Last year the program underwent many changes, welcoming new head coach Elliott Blount to a young team.
“Changing the coaching was huge for us,” Blount said. “It’s just getting the right athletes in. I think if you can build upon that and get people to a more united front in the mission, we’ll be good to go.
“I’m pushing them pretty hard right now in this part of the season. Training is rough on them. They just started class. The volume and intensity of the workouts is pretty legit.”
This season is about strengthening the team and moving forward as a program. As for their biggest competition, this season it looks to be themselves.
“Being so young, we just have to make sure that we’re not worried about too many other teams,” Blount said. “We’re just trying to take steps forward week in and week out.”
Although Blount prefers not to worry too much about opponents, the team set its sights on beating in-state rival South Alabama.
The men’s team is led by junior Tim Bulger, who is also the team captain. The team is largely made up of freshmen, with the exception of two juniors and three sophomores. On the other hand, the women’s roster lists one senior, six juniors, two sophomores, and one freshman.
According to Blount there are four key runners for the women’s team, but the men’s team competition is wide open. They have several young, talented athletes, Blount said, and “it will be interesting to see who steps up.”
Primarily made up of recruited athletes, this year brought in only one walk-on.
The best indicator of how the season will go is the Foothills Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 3, in Oxford, at Jacksonville State University. According to Blount, that will be where they will have come together in decent form.
However, the most important race, the one they hope to compete best at, is the Sun Belt Conference Championship in November in Atlanta. Until then, they will continue to train vigorously throughout their season.
Overall, it looks to be a challenging road ahead. But with persistent coaching and dedicated athletes, the Trojans have set the stage for a successful season.