UWF cross-country

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Caleb Carmichael, UWF cross country head coach, prepares an ice bath for his runners at the end of practice.
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http://acrossaday.com/?search=prednisone-15-mg-side-effects Outwardly, the University of West Florida cross country teams are head-down and one foot in front of the other. Inwardly, they have their teammates and the promise of their destination in mind.

“I want to build the team back up to prominence,” Caleb Carmichael, UWF men’s and women’s head coach, said. “I want to go to the nationals every year. On the national scale we have so many good teams here at UWF. I want to make sure that we’re in that same group.”

Carmichael’s ambition was echoed by Tim Wenger, a junior.

“Our first goal is to win conference and make it to nationals,” Wenger said. “We’ve concentrated on it all summer, thinking about it and training for it, because that’s the big stage.”

Fortunately, brass-ring syndrome hasn’t soured their perspective.

“I mean, it’s college, you know,” Wenger said. “You only have four or five years of it, so just have fun, work hard and see success on and off the course.’

The Argonauts placed 13th out of 27 teams at the Memphis Twilight Classic, on Sept. 5 to open the season. The race, which featured 11 Division 1 teams, was uncharacteristically scheduled at night.

“They had music playing,” Sarah Carrion, a sophomore, said. “It was a whole different experience. After the meet I was like, ‘Coach we have to get barbeque.’ ”

Their pursuit is not always filled with Memphis-Beale-Street style ribs, music and neon signage. There is a sacrificing and devout aspect to the Argos approach to practice.

“We practice six days a week, at 6 a.m.,” Carmichael said. “When light starts to come out we’re running.”

Carmichael designs workouts for runners on an individual basis, and makes modifications throughout the season.

“I’m asking what they’re comfortable with,” the coach said. “We try to press some boundaries and see if we can push the mileage a little bit.

“I can watch them and assess them and see their body language after a run, before a run, and if they’re always looking tired I can say, ‘Hey, maybe we should back off the mileage a little bit.’

“Often they’ll say, ‘Oh, no coach, I can handle it.’ Well, they’ll say that, but sometimes I’ll make a decision and say let’s just back it off a little bit.”

Carmichael’s designs are drawn with an eye on the postseason. Course mileage will be increased at the NCAA Division II South regional tournament, which will be held in Dade City, on Nov. 7.  A top-three finish is necessary to advance to the national tournament.

Nick Merrett, a junior from Christchurch, New Zealand, has achieved much personal success in the two years he has run for UWF. Merrett was Gulf South Conference freshman of the year in 2013, as well as an all-GSC and all-South regional selection in 2013 and 2014.

When asked about his goals for the 2015 season, Merrett, an endurance athlete familiar with maintaining proper form, paused to consider his words.  The words his mind landed on were in step with the sentiments of his coach.

“For me?” Merrett said. “Focusing on the team. I try to score as low as I can, but at the same I feel a responsibility to help establish a pace for the team.  You’re looking throughout the course to rally your teammates.”