John van Vliet
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
The men’s and women’s cross country teams will be building off a 2012 season that finished the Bengals in the middle of conference. The women’s team finished fourth in the Big Sky Championships while the men’s team finished seventh. While this may not look like an impressive finish for either team, head coach Brian Janssen saw a lot of good things from his runners and is excited for the upcoming season.
“The women were very close to finishing in third place and the men were close to sixth place,” said Janssen, who is entering his 28th year at the helm of Idaho State cross country. “But where we finished was about where we were all season long. They both ran really well.”
For the 2013 season, the Bengals will have to rely on young runners. On the women’s side, Kylie Hutchison and Audrey Urlacher would finish in the top three for ISU, but Janssen said both will be redshirting. This will give them an extra year of training to be stronger runners in the seasons to come.
“We will be young on the women’s team so we will need someone to step up,” Janssen said. “Our recruiting class was pretty good and we have some talent in there.”
The men’s team will have a core of young runners to hopefully make the Bengals competitive this season. Janssen pointed to KC Hunsicker, Ray Miller and Dallin Webb, all freshmen last season, to be that group.
“Those three guys have been training really hard over the summer,” he said. “They will make a big jump from where they were last year and we will have a solid base from those three.”
Coaching and training a very young and inexperienced group of runners will be no challenge for Janssen. In 27 years, Janssen has coached seven All-Americans, 66 conference champions and 244 of his athletes have earned all-conference honors. He has also coached 13 runners to becoming a top-10 nationally ranked competitor.
Janssen was first hired by ISU track and field head coach Dave Nielsen, who will be entering his 29th season and too has an illustrious record to his name.
“I just forgot to move,” Janssen joked. “I came in here, started a family; I never thought I would stay this long. Plus, working with Nielsen has been great. He brought me here and he gave me autonomy as a coach. Our philosophies in coaching are similar.”
Centennial Course – A true cross country course
Most cross country meets anywhere in the country at any level run through flat and groomed courses, likely a golf course. Idaho State boasts one of the more special and “true” cross country courses in all of the country.
“Centennial Course is special to us,” Janssen said. “It is one of few real courses in the country. The hills make it interesting and challenging for most runners. There are hills, drops, ruts and occasionally snakes. It is a little more true to what the sport is supposed to be. People like it because it is different, it feels like real cross country.”
Located in the foothills of Pocatello, Centennial Course gives Idaho State runners a bit of a home field advantage. Much of their training is done on this course as opposed to other universities training throughout the golf courses they normally compete on.
If you wish to go and support Idaho State cross country, you must be prepared to traverse the rugged terrain yourself. There are a few great locations to hike to as you watch the runners race through the elements. Any bit of crowd support is welcomed and Janssen says it helps and motivates his runners to power through the hilly course.