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The Orion

Gary Towne: Pushing the Wildcats to NCAA Championships

Sadie Gastelum finished second overall for the women's cross-country team at the CCAA Championships in Golden Gate Park. Photo courtesy of Gary Towne.

With both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams taking first place at the 2015 CCAA Championship, head coach Gary Towne opened up about the teams’ successes as both head into NCAA competition.

The Orion: Do you think Will Reyes and other members of the team will be able to compete past the collegiate level?

Towne: Yes. There are guys that are running below them that are competing to be in the Olympics, and we’ve got guys on the team that are running at a much higher level than that. I think he could continue running past college if he wants to. He’s got talent but he also works hard. There are several on the team that could continue running if they wanted to; we’ve got a lot of really good runners.

The Orion: How do you prepare the team for the upcoming Regional Championship and the NCAA Championship?

Towne: We don’t change the practices that we do or our practice schedule. We still do double runs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Running more for two weeks wouldn’t make much of a difference. We practice all year for the championship races which are longer than the general meets that we compete at this season. The Regional and NCAA races are 10K, which is about 1.25 miles longer than what we compete in usually. We don’t have to change much because we’re preparing for this during the season.

The Orion: Why do you believe some of your runners have succeeded as well as they have?

Towne: Well, a lot of it goes past talent. They all work hard and they build on that talent. Hard work is everything, I mean, it plays the biggest part in how well our runners do and it goes beyond anything that we can teach. There is a certain level of talent that they all have, but I would say the biggest thing is that they train hard.

The Orion: How impressed are you by some of the runners in the program, such as WIll Reyes and McCall Habermehl?

Towne: I was very surprised by McCall and Reyes, and the team as a whole showed a lot of good things. It wasn’t a complete surprise McCall took first, she had been getting better with every outing and she was up there with Sadie, but it was still a shock to see her win. A year ago McCall was our reserve, she was our eighth runner, so to see her win the championship was really special. Will had run independently for us the previous year and we had redshirted him, so seeing him improve this year wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was still nice to see them both getting the win.

The Orion: How do you think we will do in the upcoming championship races?

Towne: It’s hard to say right now, there’s a lot that could happen. The goal is to contend for a medal, but we can’t really focus on that. We have to just focus on going out and doing our best. We don’t want to make the win our focus, it distracts us from doing the best we can.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at the [email protected] or @KentaMcAfee on Twitter.

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