Cross Country team tryouts to begin Thursday

Senior Endalow Takele runs in the Conference USA Championship meet Oct. 31, 2015, in Spero Kereiakes Park. Brook Joyner/HERALD

Jeremy Chisenhall

Tryouts for aspiring walk-on cross-country runners are set to take place Thursday to fill out the roster for this fall.

Most of the team is already set, but this tryout will give a few runners an opportunity to prove themselves of being capable of running at the collegiate level.

The tryout will be a competitive 3×1-mile workout. Each runner will have to run three miles total with two minutes of rest between each one.

The runners participating in the tryout have been working hard to extend their running careers another four years.

Freshman Donnie Fry, one of the runners trying out, says this is the biggest opportunity of his career.

“This is pretty much like you’ve got to train for a state championship,” Fry said. He went on to say that this is a chance to run for a “high-end college,” and that it’s an “opportunity that few people have.”

Fry has taken his training very seriously, as has another freshman trying out, Jamie Welin.

“After I found out I had two weeks to prepare, I went into some hard speed workouts,” Welin said.

He says he has been working hard at the Preston Center, but as the tryout has gotten nearer, he has been focusing on keeping a consistent mile time.

“Now I’m starting to just tone it down,” Welin said on Tuesday, adding that he has “just been holding onto a strong mile pace.”

As for the qualifications that the runners will need to make the team, neither Welin nor Fry is sure of what it will take.

Fry says he’s not sure if the coaching staff will take the fastest runner, a few runners or any of the runners at all and that the runners trying out “don’t really know what the marks are” that will be required to make it.

Welin isn’t sure of what it will take either, although he has some ideas on what Head Coach Erik Jenkins may look for.

“He’s a smart coach. I think he’ll pick someone if he sees potential,” Welin said.

He feels that someone could make the team even if they aren’t the fastest runner, if they show that they can hold a steady pace and they have good form.

However, Welin does recognize that the tryout will still be focused primarily on time.

“A lot of it is heavy on time,” Welin said. “I can’t run a nine-minute mile and expect to make the team.”

While not sure of what it will take to make the team, both Fry and Welin are cautiously optimistic about their chances of doing well enough.

“I like to be positive about it,” Fry said in reference to his chances, but he admitted that he is “really unsure.”

As for Welin, his feelings are similar.

“I think I have high chances, but I can’t say too much that I think I’ll make the team because I don’t know,” Welin said.

Both runners will compete alongside a few others to determine who will join the team this year.

Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.